Sunday, February 15, 2009

Signs of Spring and a Minor Mystery

It's mid-February and this morning the sky is spitting bits of ice and cold rain.

But we can't be fooled. We know spring is coming, even if the feed store doesn't have onion sets yet (what are they thinking?).

There are robins in the yard,



I have forsythia blooming in the kitchen (I cheated and picked it for forcing inside last weekend. My family thinks nothing of it when I say on a cold February day, "I'm going to pick some flowers." They know me well),


...and the paperwork for filing income taxes is all over the table.


My weekend job for the next few weeks is sorting out this mess of paper and figuring out if I can get anything back from Uncle Sam. I am bumfuzzled by how to do Tommy's taxes since I've never dealt with GI Bill, college tuition credits, etc. It's very confusing as to what can be claimed and what can't.

No fun adventures to report this weekend, just calculators and paper, pencils and aggravation. Except for this intriguing little mystery:

My old friend Reta bought out Rachel's Relics antique store last summer. I am still a regular customer (big surprise). Yesterday when we stopped in she showed me this little bottle.

She thought it was from the 1800's, and it had been in her family for many years. What was it for, when and where was it made, and what was its value? That's what she was trying to figure out. Since she doesn't do Internet, I offered to have a look around and see what I could find (a valid excuse to put off taxes!)


The maker's is pretty clear: C M. Looking online, I found that this was the mark of a silversmith from Dublin named Charles Marsh, and based on the I or the H (assay mark, I believe it's called) the item dates to about 1828. The other marks are not as clear--one looks like an anchor, the other? If it's Irish it should be a crowned harp, but it's too hard to make out. It looks more like a head to me.

Other than that, and some general information about Wedgwood (also called jasperware) I didn't find anything else. We wondered what the bottle was for (there is cork in the lid), and more information about Charles Marsh would be interesting too.

Can you shed any light, or point me to a place to learn more? It's a minor history mystery, but interesting. And will help Reta determine the value of her little bottle.

13 comments:

Carol said...

Send a picture and description to Country Living magazine. Their appraisals seem to be very accurate.
I am on a 3 week vacation in CO---energizing for tax time, gardening, cleaning corrals, etc. I've received pictures from other OK bloggers and the crocus are blooming and tulips budding. Of course this happened last year and on Easter Sunday we had our late freeze and everything froze. Caught the Iris blooming and the White Oaks budding. Very disappointing. Though it also caught the first hatching of ticks.
Have a lovely Sunday.

Matthew Burns said...

Yuk, taxes!

We have been putting ours off. We are poor as churchmice but have to pay in every year. We are not looking forward to it.

The bottle is neat. My grandmaw has one similar to that, and I'm sure this is not what it is supposed to be for, but she used it for a snuff bottle.

Good luck on the onion set hunt. I'm a pilgrim in this land, with no land to plow, no garden to hoe and no idea who might have onion sets. You'd think some of the bigger retailers would have them. Did you try Green's Feed & Seed beside of Capitol Market? Lowe's probably has them too. Also, the big evil (whose name shall not be mentioned here) probably has them too. Or you could holler "road trip" and drag Larry to Crazy Harry's in Elkins. He has them. Of course, he's crazy!

Good luck on the taxes. I hear the Yankee's done run the taxes up sky high on Tara this year. (Sorry I couldn't resist that.lol)

Matthew

City Mouse said...

Snuff/tobacco bottle?

Granny Sue said...

I'm worried about some of the things budding out too soon, Carol. The maples, for example, already have red showing. Not good this early. I hope you're having a great vacation!

Matthew and Mouse, you might be right. There was snuff in the bottle, Reta said, before she cleaned it out. But she said usually snuff bottles have a little dipping spoon built into the lid. I have only seen one snuff bottle in my life, and it had the little spoon. But maybe some were made with the spoon separate?

I'm going to check Green's tomorrow, Matthew. They're sure to have sets. I just looked here in town yesterday.

City Mouse said...

No, I think you're right. They always had the spoon attached. All the ones I've seen, anyhow. Hmmm.

Vera said...

I knew lots of older people that used snuff but I guess they weren't fortunate enough to have a fancy snuff box.

Vera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Granny Sue said...

That's why this one is interesting, Vera. The family that owned it wasn't wealthy, but this is obviously a quality piece--sterling silver top, very heavy, and clearly expert worksmanship in the white work. It may have been taken in trade for a debt payment, of course.

I learned a lot in the process of seeking information--that each maker had a mark, there were certain letters assigned to years, the marks told which city it was made in and the quality of the silver. All great trivia for Jeopardy, and it got us a little bit of what we sought. But I'm still looking.

Susan said...

In my librarian days, there were plenty of folks who would bring in family heirlooms wanting information: the Reference section often has antique guides and value directories, plus the librarians often have access to online resources. Even better, we're so used to creative research that if we can't find it online or on the shelves, we can often find information with a few phone calls to knowledgeable colleagues, or by following leads on ideas and hunches.

So I'd say, take it into your local librarian just in case. You never know what they can find, and their service is free.

Susan said...

Here's something: click here and scroll down to reference number sc163. Look familiar? Perhaps the lid was switched at some point, on that one or on Reta's?

solsticedreamer~laoi gaul~williams said...

lovely items~all i know is that these days irish silver (if it is irish and gold too) is highly sought after~certainly over here.

Granny Sue said...

after looking at the sites sent to me by Susan and offlist by Mary Beth, I believe this is not an Irish piece after all, but made in England by Charles Maddin, whose mark is the same as Charles Marsh--but the other marks. One of the marks on the Reta's piece is pretty clearly the lion rampant, another looks like a head, and then there is the assay letter.

It has been great fun to track this down, and I am so grateful for the help of all of you in finding the right information. Thanks so much! I printed out the photos and information and my husband is dropping it off to Reta today.

Granny Sue said...

after looking at the sites sent to me by Susan and offlist by Mary Beth, I believe this is not an Irish piece after all, but made in England by Charles Maddin, whose mark is the same as Charles Marsh--but the other marks. One of the marks on the Reta's piece is pretty clearly the lion rampant, another looks like a head, and then there is the assay letter.

It has been great fun to track this down, and I am so grateful for the help of all of you in finding the right information. Thanks so much! I printed out the photos and information and my husband is dropping it off to Reta today.

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