Antique Silver Spoon Appraisal

From Coin to Spoon: Colonial silversmiths refused to buy British silver



Thank you for sending me a picture of one of my favorite objects, a coin silver spoon. I have always been fond of coin silver spoons and started collecting them when I was a teenager as they were historical, identifiable and usually reasonably priced.

Coin silver describes silver items that are made from melted coins. Coin silver typically consists of 90 percent silver alloy. Sterling silver is 92.5 percent silver alloy. This sterling standard was set in England in the 13th century! In the 18th and early 19th centuries, there were no silver mines in the United States that yielded silver for the new Colonial silversmiths. At this time, silversmiths and jewelers would have to purchase their materials from England and, as they did not want to buy anything British, they would simply melt silver coins or other silver objects to create their wares. One can almost envision a patron passing along a handful of coins to a silversmith to shape into a spoon.

Recently I sold a large coin silver tea and coffee service that was accompanied by a letter from the 19th century discussing how the silversmith was given a large collection of coins to be melted to make a hot water urn to accompany the set as a wedding gift.

One of the great things about collecting coin silver is that it is clearly marked and fairly easy to research with today’s reference material. Your spoon bears the hallmark of J. MOULTON, which tells us that this is the mark of Joseph Moulton IV of Newburyport, Mass.

Joseph Moulton IV came from a long line of silversmiths who settled in Newburyport in the 18th century. The Moulton family was the longest contiguous span of American silversmiths, running for 200 years. His great-great grandfather lived in Newbury, Mass., in the late 1600s and was a silversmith known for making shoe buckles. Joseph Moulton IV was born in 1814 and lived until 1903. He had a retail business at the junction of Essex and State Streets in Newburyport.

There he made and sold coin silver tableware with his assistants Anthony Towle and William Jones, who were apprentices in his father’s shop. Eventually Towle and Jones founded their own company which later became known as the popular Towle Silversmiths.

Your spoon has a classic fiddle pattern design and dates to the early-to mid-19th century. Because it is a larger spoon, I would estimate its value at $95.

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. New Boston's Historic Fourth of July Celebration
    New Boston, New Hampshire, loves the Fourth of July so much the whole town turns out for the...
  2. Building on Hope's 2018 Project
    Local nonprofit group Building on Hope brings new life to the Crisis Center of Central New...
  3. Best of NH 2018 This & That
    Not all of New Hampshire's best things fit neatly into categories. Here are our Editor's Picks...
  4. Walpole's New Farmer-Owned Diner
    It doesn't get much more local than this. The Hungry Diner is an extension of Walpole Valley...
  5. Best of NH 2018 Breweries, Wine, Spirits, Cocktails & Bars
    Don't just eat local, drink local! Where to find the best New Hampshire beer, wine, spirits,...
  6. Best of NH 2018 Shops & Services
    Think of this as the ultimate guide to retail therapy. Plus, get excellent recommendations for...
  7. Best of NH 2018 Delis, Butcher Shops, Catering, Cafés, Lunch and Breakfast
    Up the "wow" factor by catering with an authentic Hawaiian luau, try Italian breakfast pizza,...
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags