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Metals (HI) - Encylopedia Of Antiques

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HALL-MARKS: The term hall-mark derives literally from the guild hall of the Goldsmiths' Company of London, and the marks were established to prevent fraud and to secure a certain standard of purity. The bulk of English plate from the 14th century on was marked. The marks signify: first, the leopard's head, adopted about 1300, denoting that the work was done under the surveillance of the Goldsmiths' Company; second, the maker's own mark, adopted 1363; third, the year mark with the secret date letter, adopted about 1438; fourth, assayed and found to be standard, the stamp of the lion passant, adopted about 1540; finally, the King's head, adopted in 1784 as proof that the duty had been paid. It has been estimated that more than ninety per cent of old English silver bears the London hall-mark. The study of hall-marks is of a complex nature and adds no inconsiderable task to the collecting of English silver. The standard work on the subject is English Goldsmiths and Their Marks by SIR CHARLES J. JACKSON. Much of the plate of Holland, France, and Germany also was marked, due to the influence of the powerful trade guilds existing in all European countries to protect the interests of the trade. In this country, as there were no trade guilds here, the only official stamp was the maker's mark, usually in the form of his initials, often combined with a device or emblem. The present "sterling" (q.v.) mark now required was not adopted until 1865.

HANAP: The name of a standing cup (q.v.) with cover for use at the table in medieval times. It came next to the salt in importance as a table accessory, and in the halls of the wealthy was made of costly metal, or sometimes, of an ostrich egg or a cocoanut shell, mounted in silver and having feet of the same metal.

HANDLES: The pendant drop handle, at first made of wrought iron, later of brass, was the style in use on furniture in the 17 th century. This was followed by the bail handle of brass, attached with cotter pins or wire, and later the more elaborate so-called "willow" brasses, attached with screw and nut. This style of handle remained in vogue until the time of Hepplewhite and Sheraton, when their handle with the oval or hexagonal plate displaced them. The handles on bowls, cups, vases, porringers and other forms in metal and ceramics are definite clues to style and origin.

HINGES: Strap hinges were in early use on the lids of chests and on doors, both in England and in this country. The so-called "butterfly" hinge was also one of the earliest hinges made here. It was made in a variety of sizes, and the iron of the spread ends was usually thinner than towards the center. These were chiefly for use on tables with drop-leaf. H and I-L hinges were used extensively on doors and cupboards throughout the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries, especially in New England. In New York and Pennsylvania the so-called "rat-tail" found favor. It was seldom seen in New England. All of these hinges were hand-wrought. In 1772, an English invention of cast-iron butt hinges served eventually to displace the wrought-iron hinges.

HOB GRATE: A basket-like grate of English design that sits inside the fireplace.

HOLLOW WARE: Name given to bowls, pots, measure, tankards, flagons and other hollow pieces, in both metal and ceramic ware.

HORSE TRAPPINGS: Fanciful frets of perforated brass, similar to ornaments which had been used on horse harness from time immemorial. These ornamental brasses were regarded as charms against danger and perils unknown today.

INKSTANDS: Pewter and silver inkstands of the 18th century included receptacles for sand and wafers as well as for ink, and also a pen stand.

IRISH PEWTER: See Irish Pewterers by CozTERELL and WESTROPP, 1917.


IRON: Iron seems to have been the first native metal to be used in the American colonies. In 1630, a deposit of iron ore (bog iron, it was called) was found at Saugus, a few miles north of Boston, which could easily be obtained and smelted. A company was organized by John Winthrop, Jr., a crude smelter was set up, also a foundry, producing both wrought- and cast-iron. It was one of the first native industries of New England, and it supplied the colonists with iron for pots, kettles, hinges and latches, fireplace and farm tools. Later, when candles came into common use, iron candlesticks and the tripod candle stands were made. In 1648, the same company built a forge in Braintree and, in 1652, another at Raynham near Taunton, Massachusetts.