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Research Projects

This web page will mention some of the research we are currently working on (some at a seemingly glacial pace!); if you have any thoughts or ideas on any of these subjects you are welcome to contact us at ihb@imperialhalfbushel.com.

The Baltimore City Assay Office and Marks are of particular interest to us. We will be putting a short listing of the marks in our article section; for a fuller description and explanation of the reasoning in reassigning the dating that was published in Pleasants & Sill Maryland Silversmiths 1715-1830 (Lord Baltimore Press, 1930) please read the article "Marks on Baltimore Silver 1814-1860: An Exploration" by Patrick M. Duggan appearing in Silver in Maryland (Maryland Historical Society, 1983).

One long running project is a compendium of Maryland State Jewelers xxxx-1915 (consisting of Jewelers, Watchmakers, Clockmakers, Silversmiths & Opticians Working Outside of the City of Baltimore). References used include various city, county, state and other directories, the 1850 through 1900 Federal censuses, various credit rating publications, the published research of other authors, and Maryland newspapers published before 1900. Baltimore City is currently excluded from this project because a good directory compilation was published in J.F. Goldsborough et al. Silver in Maryland (Maryland Historical Society, 1983).

There are an amazing number of unidentified American silver marks. Two letter initial marks can be very difficult to assign unless the letter combination is unusual or a geographical location can be confidently assigned and matched to a maker/retailer. One would think that marks that include a full surname would be fairly easy to identify but not enough original research has been done yet to find those names and publish them. City and state directories research would add many names in probably the least amount of time. A page by page perusal of the occupational listings noted in the 1850 and 1860 Federal censuses would be very rewarding but is obviously too much for one researcher to contemplate doing on one's own; perhaps a large group of people could each search smaller manageable sections of the census and their findings combined under a common format. A search of advertisements in surviving nineteenth century newspapers would uncover many names but would be very time consuming. One project undertaken was a compilation of the relevant listings published in The Mercantile Agency United States Business Directory, for 1867, Containing the Names of the Merchants, Manufacturers, and Traders Generally, Throughout the United States. The names were listed under headings of Watches & Jewelry (also "Dealers in ..." and "Importers of ..."), Watchmakers, Silversmiths, Manufacturing Jewelers, Plated Ware, and numerous specialized trades. This source furnished over 4100 names of people and firms in the trade who were conducting their own business and may have marked the merchandise they sold.