In Fig.13 a pair of Victorian salt spoons with a journeyman's marks in the form of the number '7' is shown.While most journeymen's marks are symbols, numbers were also used.Flatware pieces with manufacturer's numbers within a rectangle are special orders. Tiffany flatware has generally two numbers: the first is the pattern number; the second is the chronological order number.
(note 11) The manufacturer's numbers is a logical further development, but now every item was given its own specific number.
Note Fig.10 casters and salts, made London 1867/68 by Hunt and Roskell in the 'Ashburnham' pattern, the salts are stamped with 4801, the matching casters with 4671. The obvious deduction is therefore that around middle of the 19th century not every silversmith used manufacturer's numbers, but by 1880 manufacturer's numbers were fairly common.
In 'The Berry Silver Flatware Pattern by Whiting' (note 1) William P. This gave me pause to think about all kinds of numbers, found on flat- and hollowware.
pointed to Whiting's mysterious numbering system for flatware pieces.
An article giving more info about all these numbers seemed like a good idea. Due to the common and unfortunate practice of splitting up table and flatware services at auction sales or between family members, 'pairs' with the numbers 3 and 4 might be offered. This practice was amply illustrated in the Thurn and Taxis Collection.
A 'pair' with the numbers 1 and 2 might be a true pair or the first ones in a series of a larger number of items. (note 2) Two different systems have been used: A- Consecutive numbers for multiples of the same items, like for example Lot 87, 'A set of six German silver meat dishes, J. Drentwett I, Augsburg 1755-5' is numbered with the inventory number 1 - 6, Lot 121: 'A set of eight German silver table candlesticks, Daniel Schaeffler I, Augsburg, apparently 1712-15, one lacking inventory number, the others: 77, 78, 79, 81 to 84, also engraved with scratch weights.' Consecutive numbers were also used for ice pails, set of salts, casters, etc. To understand scratch weights and to correctly convert them to today's weights is of utmost importance for the collector.
Divergences in weights plus the fact that various materials were weighed with different weights (troy for precious materials, avoirdupois for others) makes us appreciate the easy metric system so much more.
Even though manufacturer's numbers are usually associated with more 'modern' silver - used from about the middle of the 19th century - an early predecessor existed. Penzer calls these 'order number of Storr & Mortimer' (note 9), 'pattern number or job number' (note 10) is probably a more apt description.
Many, but not all, Storr silver pieces have three-digit numbers stamped in, which could not have been inventory numbers. Variations and inconsistencies are many, for example only three of a set of 4 wine coolers are stamped 887, a dinner service made for Sir Thomas Picton, 1814, is marked 167 on 2 meat dishes and covers, a large meat dish, two rectangular dishes and covers.
Yet the matching soup tureen and stand is not marked with this number.
The John Hay Library in Providence, RI is the home of the Gorham archives. Hough (note 13) will research your Gorham silver item.