Punch Ladle

This punch ladle is not a souvenir spoon by any stretch of the imagination, but since I had a couple of pictures of this unusual silver serving piece, I thought that I would make them available for anyone who had an interest.

This silver ladle is unmarked, thus we can only guess at its origin. If it were British or of continental European origin it would most likely have some type of silver marking. But if the bowl were produced from a coin (as was this one) the hallmarking requirements may have been waived. British silversmiths often inserted a small sixpence or shilling coin in the bowl to show its silver content.

Since the handle is twisted whalebone, we may assume that it was produced in a place where whaling activities took place. We also know by comparing examples that similar pieces have been found originating in the New England part of the USA which was active in the whaling business and that region also produced a fair amount of unmarked silver. We do not know for sure that this piece originated there, but that is a reasonable guess.

History tells us that the bowls on this type of piece were typically made from a single crown size silver coin. The edge of this ladle has a similar look to the edge of a silver coin. Coin silver is typically about 900 which is slightly below the sterling standard of 925.

The repousse design of the bowl (see closeup picture) is in the rococo style. Examples from books also show similar looking pieces in rococo which typically date to 1750 - 1775. The earlier punch bowls were often rounded, while the later ones typically have shaped oval or double-lipped bowls and are more likely to be marked.

Most of the examples are about 15" long. This piece is about the same length and the style of construction is similar to pieces from that era. The blurred measure in the picture is 12".

Could it be a reproduction. Yes, but most likely, if a person were to go to all of the trouble to create a piece like this, then they would have put a famous silversmiths mark on it so as to increase its resale value.

Since there is no mark, I believe that it is a genuine New England twisted whalebone handled silver punch ladle from the 1750 -1775 era.

Early American specialty pieces are rather rare. While this piece is not in perfect condition (but after 250 years, I wouldn't be in such condition) it is in reasonably nice condition and could be easily restored to perfect condition by a competent silversmith. It does have a flaw typical of these pieces in that the handle to the bowl is not a strong joint, and it has a very tiny dent in the bowl.

Use the bar at the bottom to see the entire handle. The camera was hand held and then enlarged which is the reason the picture is blurry. The blurred ruler in the picture is 12".

Close up of bowl--note the letters "W.F." engraved in the cartouche

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