Tongue Scraper

Navajo, Zuni & Hopi
PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
TheSilverBug
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Tongue Scraper

Postby TheSilverBug » Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:12 pm

Hello, I am wondering if anyone can help me identify where this tongue scraper was made. It appears to be silver, but has no hallmarks. It is decorated with various designs which made me think likely Mexican or South American. I am also curious if anyone has any idea how old it is.

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Thanks,
Justin

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby Aguest » Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:48 pm

The object is a Native American "Food Pusher" which was an object used for feeding young children ::: I must admit, I don't know precisely how one would use a food pusher, but I guess it was used to push food around the plate in preparation for feeding the young child ::: If you do a search for "Fred Harvey Era Silver," you will come up with a number of objects which are stamped in a similar fashion to your food pusher ::: The stampings are very characteristic of Native American silver, and my best guess is that this is of the Navajo tribe; this object was made for the tourist trade and designed to be sold to non-native tourists who visited the silversmith's general area ::: Fred Harvey was one of the first traders who made extensive trading connections with the Native American silversmiths, so this is why these objects are referred to as "Fred Harvey Era" ::: The exact age is hard for me to guess, but I am thinking 1940s or maybe 1950s? ::: If it were to be really old, say 1900 to 1920, I would expect to find "ingot folding marks" on the back of the food pusher where the silversmith turned and folded a silver ingot over and over again until it reached this shape, an extremely labor intensive process indeed ::: Since I do not see those "ingot folding marks," I am more inclined to go with 1940s or 1950s ::: Food Pushers have been in use since circa 1880, and I know this because I once found an extremely early Food Pusher made by the Gorham company of Providence, Rhode Island, but the overall design of your food pusher is more consistent with 1940s or 1950s, so really this is the best guess I have at this time ::: The overall character of the designs seem more consistent with 1940s or 1950s :::

silvermakersmarks
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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby silvermakersmarks » Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:22 am

The pusher is not exclusively a Native American, nor even an American, implement. Pushers are frequently seen in combination with a spoon making up a christening set. They are meant to be used by the child her/himself to manoeuvre food onto the spoon.

Phil

AG2012
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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby AG2012 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 7:07 am

Right,children food pushers were common throughout Europe since late Victorian era when it was considered rude even for children to touch food with hands.
Kids were given food pushers to help them rake their dinner onto forks and spoons.

TheSilverBug
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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby TheSilverBug » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:40 am

Thank you very much for your responses. The information was very helpful. What a strange utensil, the Victorians had such a wide range of one purpose tools. Thanks!
Justin

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby dragonflywink » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:23 am

Navajo (or Pueblo made in Navajo style), would guess 1920s-30s dating, the souvenir spoon market had waned by then and production was leaning toward more usable pieces in less whimsical designs than those found in souvenir spoons - it's not a common form in Navajo silver and suspect there probably was a matching baby spoon (food pushers are still in production by some companies, more often in stainless steel, though silver is available). Am not familiar with "ingot folding marks" or the technique described as being used by silversmiths, but to my eye, your piece appears to be hand-wrought, hammered out from either a coin or ingot, though by the time it was likely made, rolling mills and sheet silver were also coming into use - the decoration was applied with various stamps. If interested, Cindra Kline's book 'Navajo Silver: Indian Artistry and the Souvenir Trade, 1880s-1940s' (2001) is a good read...

~Cheryl

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby Aguest » Tue Jul 24, 2018 12:37 pm

Here is a description of a Navajo Bracelet which has been dated 1920's to 1930's, it referenced "ingot folding marks" or "fold marks":

"AUTHENTIC NAVAJO INGOT SILVER CLUSTER UNUSUAL SATELLITE DESIGN.
CA 1920/30'S
Very RARE Example of a
Heavy Ingot Carinated Wireand Gem Quality Turquoise Bracelet
Debated whether I would List but Feast your eyes on this One
You can clearly see the Fold Marks on the inside of this Hand-Pounded
Silver Ingot..Finished off
with Proper NA Folded
Terminal Caps.."

Fold marks are not indentations in the silver, but sometimes you will see these "ghost-like-lines" in the silver, and these are the fold-marks, they are kind of like "stretch marks" on our skin, that is really the best way to describe them, they are difficult to see and they appear as very faint, asymmetrical streaks, more like a very subtle discoloration in the silver which appear in the silver.

I was leaning towards 1920's to 1930's for a date of the food pusher, it very well could be the case that the food pusher is more like 1920's to 1930's instead of 1940's to 1950's, but as I did not see any "fold marks," I made a judgement call and went with 1940's to 1950's...

When I read through my Native American Silver books, I will try to get a better description of these "fold marks" or "ingot stamping marks."

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby dragonflywink » Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:55 pm

Suspect you would have a hard time finding a silversmith, Navajo or otherwise, who "turned and folded a silver ingot over and over again" while pounding out a spoon or any other item - that just isn't the way it's done. The flaws seen in hand-wrought Navajo silver can be caused by working too cold, resulting in cracks, or an improperly poured ingot can have air bubbles exposed when hammering or rolling, and overheating during annealing can cause brittleness, splitting, changes in color and texture, even melting. To date a piece by flaws in workmanship doesn't seem realistic to me, there are numerous (would guess the majority) early Navajo pieces without those flaws, likely done by more experienced and/or skilled smiths, and there are also numerous later hand-wrought pieces that show considerable flaws - I have a Navajo chip-inlay buckle that would date no earlier than the late 1960s-early '70s, and it shows all sorts of flaws on the reverse. Most of my books are packed away and Kline's 'Navajo Spoons' is the only one handy at the moment, but I do have a couple of others, and am sure that Adair's 'Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths', an older text-heavy book, describes their process of hammering silver pieces in detail.

~Cheryl

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby dragonflywink » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:14 pm

These images showing the progression of producing hand wrought spoons are from Kline's 'Navajo Spoons', the first using an ingot, the second, using a coin, was taken from Adair's book:

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~Cheryl

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby Aguest » Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:51 pm

So perhaps the "Fold Marks" are simply artifacts from the Ingot itself, which was created by melting down coins?

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby Traintime » Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:59 pm

Just out of curiosity, I do recall a depiction (photo or print) of a Southwest native jeweler or smith sitting on the ground and using a section of cut steel rail for his entire workbench. Would they have regularly hammered their silver out on such a simple set-up in the old days? Could this be related to the unusual lines or waves in the metal?

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby Aguest » Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:00 pm

::: I'm interested in why they are referred to as "fold marks" when, apparently nothing is being folded, except for possibly the original ingot? :::
::: I have seen these "fold marks" referred to several times, but I guess it could just be misinformation which was pounded into the shape of factual information :::

TheSilverBug
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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby TheSilverBug » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:31 am

Those are fascinating photos Cheryl, It is quite amazing what can be made from a coin by a skilled craftsperson. Thanks for your posts.

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Re: Tongue Scraper

Postby dragonflywink » Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:14 pm

The 'fold mark' descriptions seem to be referring to thin uneven edges being folded back and pounded down rather than being cut and/or filed off as they should have been. Not an indication of age, though certainly a sign of of being hand-wrought, however carelessly done - looking at other Navajo silver will show it was finished with varying degrees of proficiency, regardless of the dating...

These three images, from the same dated as 'circa 1940' bracelet, show the 'fold marks', including an area where it appears the folded over edge crinkled up and separated a bit when the band was curved into the bracelet form, the second image also shows other flaws including a crack and signs of overheating, in the last pic the other end of the band doesn't seem to show any signs of 'fold marks':

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~Cheryl


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