Saturday, June 23, 2012

Historic Antique or Modern Reproduction?

Did Paul Revere make this?
A friend found this in a brook that runs through my backyard, and we're trying to figure out if it is authentic or a reproduction.  It's a three-pronged fork, weighs about an ounce and a half, and has a swirled handle. It's covered in black tarnish, but you can see some silvery glints shining through here and there.

Our property used to be farmland, and this area is known to have been traveled by Revolutionary War soliders, and Native American Indians before that.  The spot where the brook is located is amidst protected wetlands, so it hasn't been disturbed, and it's possible this was dropped here during Colonial times as the soldiers passed through the area.

I took the fork to a local historian, and he was convinced of two things: that it's very old, and that it is handmade. He also believes the fork is solid silver.  He showed it to a colleague, and they both agreed it could have significant historic value, since it is appears to be the work of a master silversmith, and one such master known during that time period was none other than Paul Revere.

These modern-day utensils have the same handle.
This is all very exciting, but here's the problem: I found a photo online of a hand-forged wrought iron and stainless utensil set that has an identical handle pattern as this fork.   I tried to contact the company that sells it, but all they could tell me is that it is manufactured for them by a company in Canada. I asked for more information, so that I can find out what design the Canadian company is working off of (an original design, or a historic one) and they haven't gotten back to me, so now I'm turning to the internet.

Have you ever seen a pattern like this before?  Do you know of a way to determine whether or not this fork is truly an antique, or merely a reproduction.  Please offer any suggestions in the comments section. Thanks!

And, at the urging of the historians I contacted, I will be getting a metal detector and exploring out there further to see what else I can find.