Monogram Removals | Would you want an amateur operating on you?

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In our continuing exploration of understanding and appreciating antique and vintage silver, one of the things I’ve blogged about many times are monograms. Today, I think I have finally managed to capture some decent shots of monogram removals.

Monogram removals – surely it’s not that bad?

Monograms are a polarizing (well, relatively speaking) subject. Some people love them, see them as part of the history of the piece.  Others dislike having someone else’s initials on their piece. The post Monograms part 1 will fill you in on the whole story that got me started on this particular road.

As regular readers will know, it’s my opinion that you should be very skeptical when looking at “antique” silver that does not have any monogram or engraving on it. Many experts in the field estimate that prior to WWI virtually all silverware had some type of engraving/mark of ownership on it.

As luck would have it, I was putting away some of my own pieces after running them through the dishwasher, (wondering how to clean silver? – The Great Dishwasher Debate) when I noticed and remembered that some of the demitasse spoons have a terrible monogram removal on them. Honestly, it’s the worst job I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if the monogram was really deep (this can make it very difficult to remove) or the person doing the job was a beginner. I can just imagine it.

“Start with the demitasse spoons. They’re so small no one ever uses them!”

Regardless, for our purposes these spoons are perfect. Here they are – 4 demitasse spoons.

monogram removals

Even from this photo you can see the damage. Look closely at the spoon handle nearest the bottom of the photo. Can you see the – there is no other word – pit in the middle of the handle?

Look at that! Can you see all the stuff going on? First, there are a myriad of scratches going in all directions. Not the kind of marks that normal care and use leave. Second, you can still see the faint remnants of the monogram. Third, there is a definite dip in the center of the handle – it did show more clearly in the first photo.

Monogram removal closeup

All these elements are visible in this photo as well. Perhaps the second spoon from the left shows the dip due to removal of the silver the best.

monogram removal photo 3

It all comes down to the low spot.

What I can’t share through this post is how a monogram removal feels. Once you have run your thumb over a spot where a monogram was taken off and you understand what it is that you are feeling you will understand. It is almost impossible – even when the monogram is very lightly etched – to remove a monogram without leaving a tell-tale low spot.

Think about it, removing the monogram means you have to remove all the silver surrounding the monogram down to the deepest part of the engraving. A really well done removal does this very gradually, leaving a smooth and subtle depression. On these tiny spoons there is not much room around the monogram, so there was no space to create that smooth surface.

Why do I keep them?

For a few reasons. First, this particular pattern is not exactly abundant. My collection has been collected in bits and pieces. I think I have at least 2 dozen different monograms on the various pieces. Second, just as the monograms were part of the story of these spoons, so is the removal.

Let me express this more clearly.

I am not a purist, a “de-monogrammed” piece in my collection is fine. What gets me, is when people are told they are getting one thing – “No, it’s never been monogrammed” – when in many cases that is not true. If you understand there is a monogram removal and that doesn’t worry you, fine. It’s the opposite scenario that gets me worked up.

As always, leave me some comments and let me know what you think.

PS

You may also notice the new design, layout and organization. I’ve been experimenting trying to strike the balance between interesting design, ease of reading & navigation, and ease of posting. Tell me what you think. Thanks.

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4 thoughts on “Monogram Removals | Would you want an amateur operating on you?

  1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

    Hi Flib –

    Can you see what I’m talking about in the photos? I always wonder because it’s my job!

    Also, glad you like the changes. Want to be as reader-friendly as possible.

  2. ellNo Gravatar

    New format is great – much easier to read and to reply.

    Never having thought that removal would/could leave a dent, I often wondered how assurances of ‘no evidence of monogram removal’ could be made. Thank you for sharing examples and explanations.

    I think monograms on French silver are among the most exquisite. Additionally, inscriptions on silver items often send me to the keyboard to research events of the time period – to picture the piece in use by its various owners and/or how and why the piece might have come about (it seems Silver Magpie’s passion is infectious…?!)

  3. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

    Hello ell –

    I’m glad you like the format. Reader comments are very helpful. I like to know I’m on the right track.

    I agree with you about French pieces, often exquisite. I also enjoy the French custom of monogramming on the “back” side. (The English and the French we can’t possibly agree on anything!) The French custom of setting the table with the tines of the fork facing down, rather than up like in US and UK, is the reason for this.

    It makes sense if you think about how Europeans (UK included here) eat. We use the knife to push the food onto the back of the fork to eat, rather than cut with the knife, put it down, then transfer fork to that hand and use the fork as a scoop in the American manner.

    I’m very glad to hear my curiosity is infectious! :)

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