Among the eighteenth century American silversmiths there are some that stand out 일본야구중계 prominently, and the exhibition of old American plate held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1906 brought them to notice. There is the work of John Dixwell from 1680 to 1735 who was the son of Colonel John Dixwell, one of the regicides who fled to America in the early years of the Restoration. But the historic punch bowl made by Paul Revere was the pièce de résistance, and was shown together with some forty other of his creations. It was made for the fifteen “Sons of Liberty.” The inscription runs: “To the memory of the glorious Ninety-Two members of the Honourable House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, who, undaunted by the insolent menaces of villains in power, from a strict regard to conscience and the Liberties of their constituents,{48} on the 30th June, 1768, Voted Not To Rescind.”

But Paul Revere, silversmith, has another claim to renown as a patriot. Longfellow, in his Tales of a Wayside Inn, has a poem telling of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” seven years after he fashioned this punch bowl. The story runs that he waited, booted and spurred, on the Charlestown shore for secret news to carry through all the countryside.

... If the British march
By land or sea from the town to night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,—
One, if by land, and two, if by sea.
We know the story of the opening shots at Lexington, the obstinate foolishness of the North Ministry and the deaf ear George III turned to the wisdom of Chatham. Longfellow pays posterity’s tribute to the silversmith:—

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
The higher standard mark has a significance peculiarly its own. By 8 and 9 William III, cap. 8, it was enacted that any person bringing silver plate from January 1696 to November 1697[2] to any of the Royal Mints, which silver plate be marked as sterling silver with the mark usually employed at the Hall of the Goldsmiths’ Company of London should receive “without tarrying till it be melted and assayed,” five shillings and four pence per ounce.

Section 9 of this chapter of the Act contains in official terms an allusion to the grave scandals that had shaken the commercial stability of the country for many years. “And whereas it might reasonably be suspected that part of the silver coins of the realm had been, by persons regarding their own private gain more than the public good, molten and converted into vessels of silver or other manufactured plate, which crime has been the more easily perpetrated by them, inasmuch as the goldsmiths or other workers of plate by the former laws and statutes of the realm were not obliged to make their plate of finer silver than the sterling or standard ordained for the monies of the realm,” it was enacted that from and after 25th March 1697 no silver plate should be made that was not of higher standard than the coin of the realm. It was laid down that the legal marks on all silver were to be the maker’s mark, expressed by the two first letters of his surname, and that the marks of the assay offices should be for this new plate the lion’s head{50} erased and “the figure of a woman commonly called Britannia” in lieu of the former marks of the leopard’s head and the lion passant. In addition to this the date mark was to be stamped to show in what year the plate was made. In this Act of 1696 it will be observed that the mention of the leopard’s head and the lion passant include London marks only. As the manufacture of silver plate of the old standard was illegal after the passing of this Act and the use of the old marks was equally illegal, it would appear that the provincial assay offices were precluded from stamping silver.

That this appears to be the case is suggested by the reappointment of the provincial offices in 1700. York, Exeter, Bristol, Chester, and Norwich, at which cities mints had been opened for the coinage of the new silver, were reappointed by 12 William, cap. 4, to assay and mark silver plate as heretofore. The new standard was to be observed. The marks to be employed were the maker’s mark, the lion’s head erased, the figure of Britannia, the city mark, and the date letter, “a variable Roman letter,” which latter provision was not then, and has not since, been observed, as other types have been used.

From 25th March, 1697, till 1700 no plate was therefore assayed at any of the provincial centres.

In 1702 the town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne was appointed as an assay town with similar privileges and restrictions as in the above-mentioned cities.

The old standard of silver was ·925, that is in every thousand parts only 75 were to be of alloy. The new standard was ·959, that is only 41 parts of alloy could{51} be legally used. This raised the standard of silver plate above that of the coin of the realm.

The new standard was the only legal standard for silver plate from March 1697 till 1720, when the old standard was revived and the higher standard marks of the Britannia and the lion’s head erased were no longer compulsory. Silver plate then dropped to the same fineness as the coin of the realm. But if silversmiths desired to make silver of this higher standard they could do so, and such silver plate would receive the stamps at the assay offices, of the Britannia and the lion’s head erased.

It is thus shown that the dates when silver plate must compulsorily bear the Higher Standard marks are between the years 1697 and 1720. The following note will be useful to collectors.

A piece of silver marked with the figure of Britannia and the lion’s head erased may be an example falling under any of the following heads:—

1. Assayed in London between 1697 and 1700, when London was the only office assaying silver plate. (It was illegal in England to make silver plate of a lower standard between 1697 and 1720.)

2. Assayed in London between 1701 and 1720.

3. Assayed at Chester, Exeter, York, and Norwich, between 1701 and 1720.

4. Assayed at Newcastle from 1702 to 1720.

5. Assayed at any of the assay offices (except Dublin; no Higher Standard silver being made in Ireland) after 1720 to the present day. Although such silver plate of the Higher Standard has not since been compulsory by law since 1720.

The Britannia period is an intricate period in the study of silver plate, but the history underlying the Acts which governed the hall-marking at this period should appeal to the collector who wishes to endow his plate with historic interest. Without digressing too widely into economic questions which threatened to paralyse commerce and to destroy the allegiance to William III, it is of essential interest to the collector of old silver plate to realize the conditions which rendered the Higher Standard Mark of the Britannia and the lion’s head erased necessary to prevent financial disasters of considerable magnitude. The plate closet provides the historian with many of his facts. It was in the days of Charles I that the loyalists melted down their plate to be converted into coin of the realm. It was in William’s day that clippers of coins provided silver for the silversmith to fashion into his pleasing shapes. At what cost will be shown.

Till the reign of Charles II our coin had been struck by a process as old as the thirteenth century. The metal was shaped with shears and stamped by the hammer. The inexactitude of such coinage became the opportunity for the clipper of coins. A mill was set up at the Tower of London which was worked by horses and superseded the human hand. The coins were exactly circular, their edges were inscribed with a legend, and clipping was thereby made apparently impossible. But the hammered coins and the milled coins were current together. The result was, as it always is, that the light and poorer coin drove the better one out of the current{53} circulation. The milled crown new from the mint became more valuable for shipment abroad or for use in the crucible.

Coiners grew and multiplied because the damaged and defaced coins could be more easily imitated. Hundreds of wretched persons were dragged up Holborn Hill, and in spite of flogging, branding, and hanging, the trade of the coin clipper was easier than highway robbery, and as fortunes were to be made those who followed that avocation took the risks, as did smugglers. It was a dangerous occupation. Seven men were hanged one morning and a woman branded, but this did not deter the hundreds who were undetected. One clipper who was caught offered £6,000 for a pardon, which was rejected, but the news gave a stimulus to the industry. The Government of the day became alarmed at the state of things, which grew from bad to worse. A sum of £57,200 of hammered money paid into the Exchequer was tested by the officials. It should have weighed above 220,000 ounces; it weighed under 114,000 ounces. (Lowndes’ Essay for the Amendment of the Silver Coins, 1695.) A Quaker who came from the North journeyed southwards, and his diary shows that as he travelled towards London the innkeepers were astonished at the full and heavy weight of the half-crowns he offered. They asked where such money could be found. The guinea which he purchased at Lancaster for twenty-two shillings bore a different value at every stage. In London it was worth thirty shillings, and would have been worth more had not the Government fixed this as the highest at which{54} gold should be received in payment of taxes. The Memoirs of this Quaker were published in the Manchester Guardian some thirty years ago.

It may readily be imagined that such a state of things began to cripple trade. Merchants stipulated as to the quality of the coin in which they were to be paid. “The labourer found that the bit of metal which, when he received it, was called a shilling, would hardly, when he wanted to purchase a pot of beer or a loaf of rye bread, go as far as sixpence.” Tonson the bookseller sends Dryden forty brass shillings. Another time he paid the poet in silver pieces that were so bad that they could not be passed.

The Government still believed in penalties, and hoped that drastic punishment would stop the clipping of the hammered coin and the melting and export of the new milled coin. A clipper who informed against two other clippers was pardoned. Any one informing against a clipper had a reward of forty pounds. Whoever was found in the possession of silver clippings, filings, or parings should be burned in the cheek with a red-hot iron. Officers were empowered to search for bullion, and the onus of proof as to its origin was thrown on the possessors, or failing this they were fined heavily. But all in vain were these drastic measures; clipping still continued in defiance of all penal laws. Colley Cibber in his Love’s Last Shift, or the Fool in Fashion, has a hit at the debased state of the coinage. A gay cynic says, “Virtue is as much debased as our money: and, in faith, Dei Gratia is as hard to be found in a girl of sixteen as round the brim of an old shilling.”

This is not the place to enumerate the many foolish schemes that were propounded, some too costly, some unjust, some hazardous.

Locke and Newton brought their minds to bear on the subtleties of the question, and adopted the ideas of Dudley North, who died in 1693. His tract on the restoration of the currency is practically the same as that subsequently adopted.

William Lowndes, Secretary of the Treasury, Member of Parliament for the borough of Seaford, “a most respectable and industrious public servant,” as Lord Macaulay terms him, was incapable of rising above the details of his office in order to cope with economic principles. “He was not in the least aware that a piece of metal with the King’s head on it was a commodity of which the price was governed by the same laws which govern the price of metal fashioned into a spoon or a buckle, and that it was no more in the power of Parliament to make the kingdom richer by calling a crown a pound than to make the kingdom larger by calling a furlong a mile. He seriously believed, incredible as it may seem, that if the ounce of silver were divided into seven shillings instead of five, foreign nations would sell us their wines and their silks for a smaller number of ounces.”

Happily Lowndes was completely refuted by Locke in his Further Considerations Concerning the Raising the Value of Money, 1695.

Locke recommended what Dudley North had advised, namely, that the King should issue a proclamation declaring hammered money should pass only by weight. What searching, branding, fining, burning,{56} and hanging had failed to do would have been accomplished at once. The clipping of the hammered coin and the melting of the new milled coin to be made into silver plate would have ceased. But it had one objection. The loss would fall on the individual. Those in whose hands the clipped coin happened to be at a particular moment would bear the loss. But the loss in equity should be borne by the State which had allowed such evils to go unchecked.

It was suggested to remedy this that all clipped coin after a certain date would be exchanged for good coin at the mint. But it was soon realized that this would make clipping more profitable than ever.