Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

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dognose
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Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

Postby dognose » Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:23 pm

Hi,

On the 6th July 1797 the Duty on silver was doubled from 6d an ounce to 1s an ounce. This increase caused somewhat of a dilemma to the Assay Offices, for the striking of the Duty mark is effectively an official receipt that the correct amount of tax had been paid. It was imperative then that the Assay Office could discern from the Duty mark how much tax had been charged should they have to make a refund due to the item being exported.
When the new Date mark was employed the new rate would become obvious, but the intervening period called for identification.
The Duty mark punch is not a Hallmark as such, it was supplied by the Office for the Commissioner of Stamps not the Assay office who only struck the mark and collected the revenue, for this service they were paid 6d in every pound collected.
London filed two cusps into their Duty mark as they had over ten months to wait for a new Date mark (28th May 1798) but Exeter only had 31 days to wait until their Date mark changed (7th August 1797) and it is thought that they chipped the top right hand corner of the punch. Birmingham and Sheffield simply struck their Duty mark twice to show double Duty had been paid. These would all presumably have been temporary measures until the Stamp Office supplied new punches.
Of the other offices I do not know, until I came across this Newcastle assayed spoon made by John Langlands II which has the Duty mark struck twice.


Image


Date wise it would fit well as Langlands was known to have dropped the pellet between his initials by c.1800. It could have of course have been an error by the marker.
I would be grateful for the opinions of other members as to whether they have knowledge of the system used at Newcastle or have seen similar markings to the ones on this spoon.

Trev.
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Postby buckler » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:29 pm

Tony Dove wrote the following note on the subject - I'm afraid I cannot recall quite where !

"The Cusped Duty Used At The Assay Offices From 1797 by Anthony Dove F.R.S.A.

[London omitted]

The Provincial Assay Offices
In l797 NONE of the provincial assay offices used a 'stub' - all punches were individually struck, so triple-cusped (trefoil) marks could be used. To record the increased duty from 5th July 1797 they were sent a directive from London (which was held responsible for collecting duty from the other assay offices) to strike the duty head twice until such time as the new trefoil punches arrived. Although the triple-cusped duty was used for some years, apparently indiscriminately, at all the offices outside London until c.1830, it was NEVER used BEFORE 1797.
Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and York all duly obeyed this instruction"
[Remainder omitted]

I myself did not realise that London were responsible for distributing the punches until I read this. I suspect however that the further from London you got, the more likely local practices probably crept in .
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Postby admin » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:32 pm

The Finial, March/April 2004
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Granmaa
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Postby Granmaa » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:50 pm

Hi Trev,

I've never been lucky enough to own or even hold a double-headed piece, but I can give some interesting snippets found in a few issues of The Finial.

The Finial, November 1994: "Newcastle double-duty mark"
Walter Brown asks the question "Has anyone seen the double-duty mark on any Newcastle silver by any other maker than John Langlands II?"
He received no response.

The Finial, January 1995: "Duty-Marks"
Terry Haines writes "We understand that the marks (were struck) vertical except for the lion passant."

The Finial, March 1995: "Georgian Duty Marks"
Simon Moore explains that the duty was doubled to raise money for the Napoleonic wars and includes a letter to the Sheffield Assay Office dated July 13th 1797 (which I find difficult to make out) in which is written "...this morning from the stamp office informing me of... having started imposing double duty upon plate you will therefore please to require such duty and strike the King's head twice until proper marks are sent."


I know this isn't very helpful, but I hope you'll find it interesting.

Miles
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Postby Granmaa » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:26 pm

I was browsing through the Newcastle Tyne and Wear archives site and found a series of documents entitled: Correspondence to the Company and Assay Master concerning such matters as the proposal to abolish provincial Assay Offices; Acts; Standards for silver Ref no. GU.GO/3/1-65
This might prove very informative.

Unfortunately, it's not available on the internet yet; anyone here live in Newcastle?

Miles
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Postby dognose » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:51 am

Hi,

Many thanks for the contributions.
I was in two minds whether this was a 'Double Duty' mark or merely a mistake by the marker. I was unaware that other Offices besides Birmingham and Sheffield marked the increase in Duty in this fashion. I am now convinced this is the real thing and appreciate all of your input.

Regards Trev.
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Postby Granmaa » Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:09 pm

Here is another letter written to the Sheffield Assay Office on April 16th, 1798 seemingly in response to their complaints about double duty marking. Again, it's hard to make out.

"Sir,
I wrote to Mr Gray and informed him of the inconvenience complained of by the trade on account of our striking the marks twice and that if he had not seen the distortions from the ... marks: in future strike the marks once as is done at Goldsmith's Hall. His answer was that he had ... heard further on the subject from the ... You will therefore strike the King's head with the new mark once only, making a memorandum in your Books of the time you begin so to do."


In the Day Book at the Sheffield Assay Office a note is made that the cusped duty mark was first struck on April 19th, 1798.

Miles
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dognose
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Postby dognose » Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:55 am

Hi Miles,

Thats great, so now we can be sure that the period of 'Double Duty' marking at Sheffield was from 13th July 1797 until 19th April 1798.
I wonder why it took nine months for Goldsmiths Hall to get the new cusped punches to Sheffield?
The likelihood of seeing a 'Double Duty' punch is usually on a Sheffield or Birmingham marked piece, is this because these two offices were marking more items than other provincial offices, thats unlikely as one see's a great deal more Newcastle or Exeter marked pieces at this period, than Birmingham or Sheffield, or, I wonder if the resentment in the 'Trade' in London regarding the threat to their livelihoods from these two 'new boys', overspilled into Goldsmiths Hall and they kept these two offices waiting until last, knowing that the extra marking was causing even more finishing problems to the silversmiths of Birmingham and Sheffield.

Regards Trev.
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Postby dognose » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:17 am

Hi,

Another example of Newcastle 'Double Duty' marking.

ImageImage
Photo courtesy of Carey Hill

Note the massive arrowhead on the tail of the Lion Passant on both these examples.

Trev.
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Postby Granmaa » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:35 am

This again brings up the question above: "Has anyone seen the double-duty mark on any Newcastle silver by any other maker than John Langlands II?"

Miles
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Postby dognose » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:30 am

Hi Miles,

Your question can be narrowed down somewhat by looking at the official figures for the assay of silver at Newcastle for the third quarter of 1797.

Only five silversmiths applied for the assay in that quarter, their names and the quantity in ounces are as follows:

Mercy Ashworth -- 91oz.
Christian Ker Reid -- 661oz.
Thomas Watson -- 705oz.
John Langlands II -- 2240oz.
John Robertson -- 881oz.

This is of course presuming that the extra marking was only applied in that quarter.

I'm sure I once saw a Thomas Watson spoon with double duty marking, but it was a while ago, and I could no longer swear to it.

Regards Trev.
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Postby dognose » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:12 am

Hi Miles,

I've been thinking some more regarding the post I made yesterday. I believe the third quarter at Newcastle must relate to the period May, June and July, as the 1st August as a Quarter Day, one of the days the Company held their meetings on.

A possible confirmation of this, is the figures for the fourth quarter in which assays were applied for by seven silversmihs, the figures are as follows:

James Thompson -- 19oz.
Mercy Ashworth -- 31oz.
Christian Ker Reid -- 369oz.
Thomas Watson -- 475oz.
John Langlands II -- 1094oz.
John Robertson -- 272oz.
Christopher Dinsdale -- 43oz.

As can be seen the figures are dramatically down on the previous quarter, a sure indication that there was a rush to get pieces assayed prior to the addition of the new Duty and to the market being subdued owing to a increase in prices.

One silversmith that I omitted from the third quarter was that of John Thompson II, who submitted a mere 11oz.

So if the 'double duty' marking was also applied in the fourth quarter we could be talking about the possibility of it being struck on the work of eight silversmiths.

Regards Trev.
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Postby dognose » Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:04 am

Granmaa wrote:This again brings up the question above: "Has anyone seen the double-duty mark on any Newcastle silver by any other maker than John Langlands II?"

dognose wrote: I'm sure I once saw a Thomas Watson spoon with double duty marking, but it was a while ago, and I could no longer swear to it.


The answer to the question. This article contains an example from Thomas Watson.

http://www.bexfield.co.uk/thefinial/v14-03/pg08.htm

Trev.
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Postby dognose » Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:36 pm

Another example of double duty marking for comprasion, this one is probably from the Sheffield Assay Office.

Image
Photo courtsey of Andy Taylor

It has been noted in the past that with some Sheffield knives, when the handles are removed, more marks are revealed.

Trev.
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Re: Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

Postby dartsil » Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:29 am

Just found this post and thought this may be of interest, Newcastle serving spoon HM 1797 with double duty marks, by Thomas Watson.

Image
Image

dognose
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Re: Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

Postby dognose » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:55 am

Hi,

Many thanks for posting the image of the double duty marks on the Thomas Watson spoon. It is the first example we've had on the forum that included the date letter. I wondered if this might have cast some new light on the period that the double duty marking was in use, but unfortunatley not. In theory the date letter should have been changed by the Newcastle Company during the month of May and the Duty was increased as from the 6th July 1797.

It does, again, in theory, slightly narrow down the dating of your spoon to the period July 1797 to May 1798, but as the Newcastle Company, like other provincial offices, were on occasion known to be lax in getting replacement punches made, then this dating has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Trev.

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Re: Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

Postby dartsil » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:59 am

Hi Trevor, I thought it might be of some interest as there was quite a bit of conversation going on in this thread, Just glad to be of assistance.

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Re: Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

Postby dognose » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:24 pm

According to Arnold T. Watson, an Assay Master at the Sheffield Assay Office during the latter part of the 19th century, the actual dates of double duty striking at Sheffield were from 13th July 1797, to the 16th April 1798.

See: Early History of the Sheffield Assay Office - viewtopic.php?f=38&t=26091

Trev.

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Re: Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

Postby silvermakersmarks » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:52 am

Here is another double-duty mark with a TW maker's mark. It was sent to me for information by a correspondent. The shape of the TW punch does not match either the punch used in the illustration above or any of the punches registered by Watson prior to 1797 (according to Margaret Gill's book on Newcastle silver).

Image

Comments anyone?

Phil

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Re: Newcastle Duty Mark Mystery

Postby dognose » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:55 pm

Hi Phil,

Could this be a malformation of the 1793 mark entered by Watson, after the possible reworking of the spoon following damage caused by the hallmarking?

Trev.


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