A SMALL COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SILVER
AND OBJECTS OF VERTU

an article of Christophe Ginter,
for
ASCAS - Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
a small collection of antique silver and objects of vertu
The list of articles about Antique French Silver, its Silversmiths and Marks
 
(click on photos to enlarge image)

SILVER HALLMARKS OF PARIS
DURING KING LOUIS XV REIGN (FRANCE 1723-1774)

Louis XIV died in 1715. His great-grandson Louis, born in 1710, was first in the line of succession as the King of France.
After a regency of eight years, and at the age of 13, which was considered a majority for kings, Louis XV actually took over the charge of the French kingdom in 1723. Louis XV contributed to enlarge French borders (Lorraine and Corsica) but his external policy was a real disaster (loss of Canada, departure from Indian territories).
It is common to consider that Louis XV was an "absolute monarch" who, in many ways, should be held responsible for "preparing" an event that Louis XVI could not prevent later: the Revolution. He died in 1774.
Louis XV, King of France
PARIS HALLMARKING SYSTEM
Silver items were stamped with four marks
MAKER'S MARK: was the first mark to be struck, when the item was still a rough sketch.
Consequently, as in many cases the mark suffered damages in the manufacturing process, the silversmith was allowed to strike his mark twice (see an example on the right).
The maker's mark was stamped together with the Charge mark
maker mark struck twice
Two stamps were used for tax issues:
CHARGE MARK: was struck at the early beginning of the sketch. This mark meant that the piece had been declared to the tax authorities. Hence, this mark should be found side by side with the maker's mark. Its size was large, similar to the maker's mark.
DISCHARGE MARK: was struck when tax was paid. Its size was roughly half as large as that of the Charge mark.
WARRANTY MARK (JURANDE): this mark certified the silver content (958/1000 in Paris). Silver fineness was a highly serious matter and makers may be sentenced to death for faking the silver content.
The mark was an "alphabetic letter under an open crown", changed yearly, This allowed one to determine the precise year of the sale.
All the letters were used, except "J" and "W". Furthermore, the "U" wasn't used under the Louis XV reign.
(on the right: warranty mark "F" identifying year 1769)
Paris 1769 warranty mark 'F'



CHARGE AND DISCHARGE MARKS
FEBRUARY 1722 - NOVEMBER 1726
1722/1726 large and medium items charge mark 1722/1726 discharge mark used only for dishes and plates 1722/1726 medium items discharge mark
Other marks:
(1) a hand

(2) "Holy Spirit"
(flying bird with the head down)
charge mark:
large and medium items
discharge mark:
dishes and plates only
discharge mark:
medium items
(1) charge mark:
golden items
(2) discharge mark:
small items
 
DECEMBER 1726 - OCTOBER 1732
1726/1732 large and medium items charge mark 1726/1732 discharge mark used only for plates and assembled items 1726/1732 medium items discharge mark (crowned goose)
Other marks:
(1) crowned dolphin head

(2) crowned chancellor mass
charge mark:
large and medium items

 
discharge mark:
plates and assembled items only
discharge mark:
medium items
(crowned goose)
(1) charge mark:
golden items
(2) discharge mark:
small items
 
OCTOBER 1732 - SEPTEMBER 1738
1732/1738 charge mark for all silver items 1732/1738 charge mark for gold items 1732/1738 large and medium items discharge mark 1732/1738 small silver and gold items  discharge mark
charge mark:
all items
charge mark:
gold items
discharge mark:
large and medium items
discharge mark:
small silver and gold items

From October 1738 the system based on large/small silver and golden objects marks maintained the same principles until the 1789 Revolution
CHARGE MARKS DISCHARGE MARKS
LARGE ITEMS SMALL ITEMS AND GOLD LARGE ITEMS SMALL ITEMS AND GOLD
OCTOBER 1738 - SEPTEMBER 1744
1738/1744 charge mark for large silver items 1738/1744 charge mark for small silver items and gold 1738/1744 discharge mark for large silver items 1738/1744 discharge mark for small silver items and gold
OCTOBER 1744 - SEPTEMBER 1750
1744/1750 charge mark for large silver items 1744/1750 charge mark for small silver items and gold 1744/1750 discharge mark for large silver items 1744/1750 discharge mark for small silver items and gold
OCTOBER 1750 - SEPTEMBER 1756
1750/1756 charge mark for large silver items 1750/1756 charge mark for small silver items and gold 1750/1756 discharge mark for large silver items 1750/1756 discharge mark for small silver items and gold
OCTOBER 1756 - SEPTEMBER 1762
1756/1762 charge mark for large silver items 1756/1762 charge mark for small silver items and gold 1756/1762 discharge mark for large silver items 1756/1762 discharge mark for small silver items and gold
OCTOBER 1762 - SEPTEMBER 1768
1762/1768 charge mark for large silver items 1762/1768 charge mark for small silver items and gold 1762/1768 discharge mark for large silver items 1762/1768 discharge mark for small silver items and gold
OCTOBER 1768 - NOVEMBER 1774
1768/1774 charge mark for large silver items 1768/1774 charge mark for small silver items and gold 1768/1774 discharge mark for large silver items 1768/1774 discharge mark for small silver items and gold
LARGE ITEMS SMALL ITEMS AND GOLD LARGE ITEMS SMALL ITEMS AND GOLD


 
YEARLY WARRANTY MARKS ("JURANDES")
F August 1722
August 1723
T September 1735
October 1736
I July 1749
July 1750
Y July 1762
July 1763
G August 1723
August 1724
V October 1736
September 1737
K July 1750
January 1752
Z July 1763
July 1764
H August 1724
August 1725
X September 1737
September 1738
L January 1752
July 1752
A July 1764
July 1765
I August 1725
August 1726
Y September 1738
Setpember 1739
M July 1752
July 1753
B July 1765
July 1766
K August 1726
August 1727
Z September 1739
November 1740
N July 1753
July 1754
C July 1766
July 1767
L August 1727
August 1728
A November 1740
March 1742
O July 1754
July 1755
D July 1767
July 1768
M August 1728
August 1729
B March 1742
May 1743
P July 1755
July 1756
E July 1768
July 1769
N August 1729
September 1730
C May 1743
July 1744
Q July 1756
July 1757
F July 1769
July 1770
O September 1730
September 1731
D July 1744
November 1745
R July 1757
July 1758
G July 1770
July 1771
P September 1731
September 1732
E November 1745
November 1746
S July 1758
July 1759
H July 1771
July 1772
Q September 1732
September 1733
F November 1746
October 1747
T July 1759
July 1760
I July 1772
July 1773
R September 1733
September 1734
G October 1747
August 1748
V July 1760
July 1761
K July 1773
July 1774
S September 1734
September 1735
H August 1748
July 1749
X July 1761
July 1762
L July 1774
July 1775

 
MAKER'S MARK
Each silversmith had his own registered mark. Every Master usually associated his initials with a symbol in-between.
In Paris, the mark was compulsorily headed by a crowned fleur-de-lys, with a pellet at each side ("grain", used to indicate the silver content tolerance).
This procedure was implemented in the 14th century and lasted up to the Revolution. Unfortunately, this way of organizing the mark stamping was not reserved only to Paris; other places in France were allowed to use a similar device (in Brittany and in many other towns like Tours, La Rochelle, Poitiers, etc.), so that the attribution to Paris of marks with this heading is often of uncertain outcome.
Below some examples of marks of Paris silversmiths are presented:
mark of silversmith Rémi CHATRIA mark of silversmith Pierre CLEMENT mark of silversmith Simon BOURGUET mark of silversmith Antoine BOURGEOIS mark of silversmith Philippe BOURLIER
Rémi CHATRIA
Registered 1724
Symbol: Holy spirit

 
Pierre CLEMENT
Registered 1694
Symbol: two crossed keys
Simon BOURGUET
Registered 1740
Symbol: a tower

 
Antoine BOURGEOIS
Registered 1708
Symbol: a sun

 
Philippe BOURLIER
Registered 1769
Symbol: May green
tree
mark of silversmith Jacques ANTHIAUME mark of silversmith Claude Auguste AUBRY mark of silversmith Pierre François GOGLY mark of silversmith François Martin MICHELIN
Jacques ANTHIAUME
Registered 1758
Symbol: a shell
Claude Auguste AUBRY
Registered 1758
Symbol: a bishop's crosier
Pierre François GOGLY
Registered 1768
Symbol: a fly
François Martin MICHELIN
Registered 1758
Symbol: a star
NOTE: Silversmith's initials are usually in bold letters. Initials represented in thin letters are highly suspicious.
Unfortunately, rubbed stamps are common on French silverware because stamping dies were rather soft and (to remember) the maker's mark often suffered damages during the finishing of the silver article.
Christophe Ginter
- 2008 -
Christophe Ginter is the author of the book LES 6000 POINCONS DE L'ORFEVRERIE FRANCAISE SOUS LOUIS XVI (1774/1791)
(click here for book review in ASCAS sweb site)
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