The value of pattern is of greater importance to the collector than might at first sight have been supposed ; it is a very great help in deciding the fate of a doubtful piece submitted by a not very scrupulous dealer or by one quite ignorant of the subject. It is well known that the styles of silver during most of the older periods, and especially in the days before the reproduction of the style of older days was practised, were in accord with contemporary furniture and other things. The forger and copyist were and are still clever, but few of them are experts in design and the peculiarities of the articles used at certain given periods, and in their desire to " improve " the " antiques " they are faking, or the silver they are copying, and incidentally hall-marking by the welding in of a piece of small value, they forget that what they are doing will be clear as daylight to an expert who knows that such a style never existed at the period the piece purports to represent. Such blunders have been many ; to take an instance, an Irish potato ring hall-marked in London and dated ten years before the first ring was known in Ireland is not an uncommon discovery. Georgian patterns hall-marked in the days of Queen Anne are among the mistakes frequently met with, they are forgers' blunders in the preparation of which many old spoons have suffered mutilation to " make up " the hall-marks on more valuable articles. Replicas are worthy of preservation, but only when openly declared as such-never when concealed by the introduction of false marks or styles of ornament. It has already been pointed out the world owes much to the Goldsmiths' Company for the faithful discharge of its somewhat thankless and onerous duties in safeguarding the purity of silver and the proper marking of goods according to the period in which they were made. Referring to the measures adopted to maintain the purity of the quality of silver goods sold in the City of London, Mr. Cripps tells us that in the statute of 1423 it was ordained " that no goldsmith or jeweller within the City of London should sell any article of silver unless it was as fine as sterling, nor set it to sell before it be touched with the touch of the leopard's head, if it may reasonably bear the same touch, and also with the mark or sign of the workman of the same,"-then follow certain penalties, the safeguards against fraud and deceit. The wiles of the forger are many but they rarely deceive for long. The " home connoisseur " collects silver with the object of acquiring a fairly representative selection of old pieces with which to adorn his sideboard or his cabinet, and he delights in showing his friends the quaint old articles no longer in use. Like the more advanced collector he points out with pride pieces bearing very old hall-marks, but he rarely goes so far as to pose as an expert in recognising the work of distinguished silversmiths by the styles he practised. The advanced collector who does possess such pieces, before paying the high prices demanded for r genuine antiques, the work of famous silversmiths mentioned in this chapter, takes some trouble to ascertain their origin and prove their established right to acceptance -in this investigation the forgers' blunders, should the piece prove doubtful, are often found out. The best way to prevent mistakes and costly bad bargains is to study genuine antiques such as may be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum at South Kensington, and the rare antiques in the British Museum. There is nothing like personal inspection of the silver plate to be seen in our national galleries and in the best private collections ; it is a great help to the collector and a source of delight and pleasure.
Fifteenth Century Mazer Bowl of Maplewood, mounted in Silver Gilt (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)
Plain Tankard with Cover and Skirt-Foot 1659
Hall marked 1648 Antique Bleeding Dish