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Old 26th May 2018, 01:39 AM   #1
Bryce
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Default Osborn's G Stamp

G'day Guys,

British swords from the period 1796-1816 are often encountered with a "G" or sometimes "GG" stamp on the ricasso. Over the years there has been a lot of discussion about who manufactured these blades and what the G stamp stood for. Over at the Antique Swords Forum we have been doing some research on this topic:

http://antiqueswordforum.com/viewto...f66de7cce326af8

I am convinced that the G stamp was an inspection stamp used by the British sword cutler Henry Osborn and then Osborn and Gunby, on their officers' quality sword blades.


So far it appears that all Osborn marked officers' sword blades also have a G or GG stamp and many (but not all) Osborn and Gunby marked blades do as well. It is likely that at some point between about 1810 and 1816, Osborn and Gunby stopped stamping their blades in this way. I haven't seen a G stamped blade that was also marked to a different maker other than Osborn or Osborn and Gunby.

To help answer this question once and for all, I would appreciate it if anyone who has an Osborn, Osborn and Gunby or G stamped British sword could pull it out and check it for a G stamp or other markings and post the result. With 1796 light cavalry models with langets it can be very difficult to spot the stamp. You need to pull up the leather washer and shine a light behind the langet to see it properly. Remember, we are looking for a "G" stamp, not engraved G's.


I am particularly interested in dateable Osborn and Gunby marked swords, to try and narrow down the date when they stopped G stamping them.


I appreciate any help you can give me.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Old 26th May 2018, 04:59 AM   #2
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There was this discussion elsewhere. The German explanation perhaps the best rationale. It is most likely not for Gill or Gunby. It came up again in anther thread there but is misplaced in my mind at the moment. That one as well pointed to the German connection and use of it. If I remember the context I'll try to dig it up.

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sh...06963-What-up-G

Cheers
GC

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sh...ify-my-swords-1
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Old 27th May 2018, 03:54 AM   #3
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Thanks for posting these links GC.

Just to sum up what we have found so far.

1. All Osborn marked officer swords have a G or GG stamp and Osborn made his own swords in England.
2. Many, but not all Osborn and Gunby swords have a G or GG stamp.
3. No Gill swords have a G or GG stamp.
4. JJ Runkel swords do not have a G stamp and they were all imported from Solingen.
5. No other sword makers' swords of this period have this G stamp.

What this seems to rule out then are the following theories:


1. It is an import/export mark.
2. It is G for Gill.
3. It is a german manufacturing mark.


The only thing these G stamped swords have in common is that they were made by Osborn/Osborn and Gunby or if unmarked or marked to a retailer, likely to have been made by Osborn.

As Dmitry asked in the SFI thread if enough collectors could look at their swords for G stamps and post the results we can solve this one for good.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Old 27th May 2018, 12:12 PM   #4
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As posted, several Bolton swords have the mark and the G-GG have been verified as used in Germany.
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Old 27th May 2018, 10:45 PM   #5
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Thanks GC,

It seems odd that Bolton who made so many swords for the American market didn't seem to make any for the British market?

Is it possible he sourced his blades from Osborn?

I don't have a copy of Mowbray. Does he shed any more light on this?

In regards to the German theory, what about these sword blades could be considered as "Legally Protected"? Henry Osborn together with John Gaspard Le Marchant is credited with designing the 1796 cavalry swords, but not the spadroons that also carry the G stamp.


Cheers,

Bryce
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Old 28th May 2018, 01:58 AM   #6
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GC you may be interested in this G stamped Osborn that I own. These are the dealers pics as I have never gotten round to photographing it myself.

Cheers,

Bryce
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Old 28th May 2018, 08:42 PM   #7
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G'day GC,

Looking thru those SFI threads you posted it seems that the book "The American Eagle Pommel Sword" by Mowbray may shed some real light on this subject. Apparently the book contains correspondence between the Upson Brothers who imported swords into America and one of their suppliers Osborn and Gunby? I don't have a copy of this book, so if anyone does, can you please post a synopsis of what it contains?


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Bryce
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Old 29th May 2018, 12:36 AM   #8
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I have tried to find a sword on the net marked to Richard Bolton with a G stamp, without success. Plenty of G stamped swords marked to Wells & Co, Richard Upson & Co etc who we know imported swords from Osborn. Can someone please help me out here and post a picture of a Bolton marked sword with a G stamp?


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Bryce
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Old 5th June 2018, 11:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce
I have tried to find a sword on the net marked to Richard Bolton with a G stamp, without success. Plenty of G stamped swords marked to Wells & Co, Richard Upson & Co etc who we know imported swords from Osborn. Can someone please help me out here and post a picture of a Bolton marked sword with a G stamp?


Cheers,

Bryce

I won't go out of my way to disagree, or correct your research but will point again to
American Eagle Pommel Sword: The Early Years 1794-1830
by Andrew Mowbray
SBN-10: 0917218361
ISBN-13: 978-0917218361

and
US Naval Officers: Their Swords and Dirks
by Peter Tuite
ASIN: B01JXOXXSE

The former of which shows both an example, along with a chapter on the Bolton eagles as well as an additional section with correspondence between the Upson brothers and Bolton regarding contracts to be fulfilled. I will not abstract further from that title, as the book is not that expensive and with little effort, previews are available through google books and Amazon "look inside"

I could point to other authors as well, who are working with the same sources, as well as already having provided to you supporting information on the subject that does seem to point to the G and GG being trade marks for German made blades.

Just as you are not going to find Osborn and Bolton marked swords then marked by Upson, or Wells (or indeed either Spies or Wolfe) the trade to US retailers not exactly a mystery. There is a certain point at which the most common or obvious explanation is most likely the correct assessment. Assuming G marked blades swords as Gunby, or Gill, less supported or recognized by those of us that have delved deeper. In the end, I suppose you are welcome to believe it is specific to Gunby while the evidence seems to prove otherwise.

Somewhere in my vast archive of images containing thousands of sword examples, I could find examples marked to Osborn that match/mirror the Upson etched and blued blades but that doesn't explain the association any better than simply suggesting buying the Mowbray book, then your being able to absorb more than just the Upson and Bolton contracts. It is an excellent book that has less need for amendments than many.

I had made the same mistakes in the beginning with expecting the internet to offer all the available information. While it is true at times that one can surpass modern takes on information (see Bazelon basically re-publishing a Horstmann history), it is usually today's authors that have tried to be all inclusive. Don't rely on internet searches if interested in a particular aspect of a missing link. Don't avoid reading beyond discussion boards and do look at old and available texts by searching Google books.

Best
GC
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Old 5th June 2018, 12:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce
GC you may be interested in this G stamped Osborn that I own. These are the dealers pics as I have never gotten round to photographing it myself.

Cheers,

Bryce



That is a fine sword and is more of interest to me as having a a deep bright etch than it having a G stamp. I will counter with with a Bolton eagle type with a bright etch and similar characteristics, which would more support furbishers sourcing the trade at large than being blademakers themselves (once again pointing to the G stamp as a trade mark not specific to Gunby, or Osborn). I will mention that this is not a sword I own, but rather part of my image archive. I have one section dedicated to mostly eagles and have uploaded it for public access.
https://drive.google.com/drive/fold...HdP?usp=sharing

Cheers
GC
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Old 6th June 2018, 03:02 AM   #11
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G'day GC,

I posted that sword because I thought you may have been able to tell me something about the motifs on the blade, not as part of the discussion on the G stamp. It is the only sword in my collection with American inspired blade decoration, as my interest is mainly in British swords.


Back to G stamps, I am not claiming that G stamps were associated with Gunby, but rather Henry Osborn. 100% of Osborn marked officer swords have a G stamp. If a G stamped blade is marked to someone other than Osborn, it can be shown that they are retailers rather than manufacturers of sword blades. Henry Osborn made his own blades, he didn't import them. Attached is an extract from the "The Literary Panorama Vol IV" dated September 1808, extolling the virtues of Osborn blades over imported German ones.

Cheers,

Bryce
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Old 6th June 2018, 04:20 AM   #12
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Thanks for the attachment. It might hold more water as to Osborn being responsible for the G stamp if it was mentioned in the attached article.

I am reminded of a 14th century edict regarding armour and arms quality with the inent of disallowing Flemish goods to favor England production but with the demand quality be met. At the same time, barrels of blades entering London and being dispersed throughout Britain to be furbished in country.

I see no proof of all Osborn officer sword blades (and why would it be only officer's blades?) bearing the G stamp. Nor the mark exclusive to his wares (you do make a point he may be supplying others). The German resident not mentioned in that article I have to assume was either JJ Runkel (who was called out for his German blades) or the S&K agent. Whomever it was, was still selling blades to English furbishers and trade flourishing despite this report.

1808 is a rather late date, in regard to several of the patterns that turn up with the G stamp and not marked to Osborn. If the G stamp is to be assumed to exclusive to blades made through his production, where is the smoking gun? Why a G? Why were some marked GG?

There might be a better argument that blister/shear steel blades were phasing out as cast steel blades were coming in. Despite this report attached that Osborn was in fact producing these blades, I'd be interested in seeing more about his mills and foundries (producing thousands of blades). I had spent some time years ago looking at steel production and the changes in ownership and or control of sword blade production. Yet, the G mark seems reclusive as to why the stamp was appearing.

Anyway, the Bolton I just showed has that similar bright etch in a timeline some might expect quite early for such work, when most of it's contemporaries are blue&gilt. Should we then assume that Bolton was always working with Osborn and Osborn not just producing the blades but etching them as well? One thing I have noticed over the span of a decade or so is a rather individual type/style of b&g needle etching that does not mimic the Osborn blade decorations and so also true of those two bright etched blades shown in this thread.

If you find the time, browse my photo archive linked above and view all the Bates/Bolton blades and the Osborn blades. Note the differences in needle etching. Similar, but at the same time quite dissimilar. Both turning up with G stamps at times.

You might seek out and hail Richard Dellar, as a recently published author regarding British cavalry swords. I don't own the title, as a tangent I have not entirely followed but I do view a lot of US targeted British made swords.

Cheers
GC

In addendum, I have lost my notes on steel production, as I had stored them on the British History Online site. That shelf was wiped clean when they rebuilt their site http://www.british-history.ac.uk/
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Old 6th June 2018, 05:44 AM   #13
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G'Day GC,

At this stage I have no idea why Osborn marked some blades with 1,2 or even 4 G's. If you have any theories I am all ears. As to whether or not all Osborn marked officer's blades have a G stamp I can say that every one in my collection does, every one in Richard Dellar's collection does, every one in several other collections does and every one I have come across on the internet with a clear shot of the ricasso does. The majority (possibly all?) Osborn and Gunby marked swords do as well. Originally I thought that Osborn and Gunby stopped marking blades with a G stamp at some stage. Now I am not so sure. The G stamps can be very difficult to spot even on a sword without langets. Can I be sure that 100% of Osborn marked swords have a G stamp? The answer is no, hence the appeal for other collectors to check their swords for G stamps as well. What I am confident of is that the vast majority, (if not all) of Osborn marked officer's swords have one. I am less confident about Osborn's troopers swords as I don't have any in my collection. Richard Dellar has one and he says it doesn't have a stamp. The problem is that troopers' swords are less common in our collections and most have langets. These G stamps can be very difficult to spot behind langets. With several of my own swords I have been convinced they didn't have stamps, only to have another harder look and discover they do have G stamps.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 6th June 2018, 06:42 AM   #14
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My Osborn eagle pommel sword has a 12 stamp Most Osborn eagle pommel swords (decorated or not) do not seem to display a G stamp and as many but a few) Bolton eagle pommels do seem to surface with the G stamp.

If you have already made up your mind and have run this by Dellar, I can only but continue to be unconvinced. It may take dismantling all these swords we have to look at tang marks as well.

In the files I had linked and mentioned again is an example of the same etch pattern of your bright sword but done in b&g (a set with a prefix of ful in that Osborn folder). Look closely at the US eagles displayed and the subtle differences in etches, both bright and b&g needlework. You'll see the example of the b&g Osborn that mirrors your bright etch and if you bother looking at my Bolton folder, you will see many Bolton examples that mirrors that Bolton I posted with the bright etch. Again, my point that there does not seem to have been a single source of a blade supply and both (at times) appearing with G stamps.

How much has Dellar delved into cutlers row in Birmingham and how many mills and foundries has he indexed? Curious minds and all that.

To me, if a blade is unmarked as to a retailer or known maker, I can only go by trends of the components and blade decorations. It is not just Wells and Upson, nor Spies and Wolfe in the US but continued mysteries such as the John Salter generations and distributions. Osborn styled swords thought to be originating with Osborn and sold through all on that brief list.

Also in my brief two decades of sword interests, as soon as I feel I have reached the pinnacle of understanding about a subject, more is surely to come. Let's see a complete history of Osborn's works to flesh out what is a nice bit of news copy but hardly conclusive (to me) that his smithys were producing those supposed thousands and that his work was above all others. Surely such information would be atop the cream of Birmingham history.

As contrary as I may seem, I appreciate your thoughts and additional notes. If the G was not necessarily an Osborn specific trait but found on many blades of quality; would it not as easily be as some have pointed out that the G and GG were universally used as marks of quality regardless of who made the blade? Both Germany, Alsace and England used the word Warranted before proved, etc came along. Osborn may be one to have demonstrating a unified proofing system and as such the G and GG might denote proofing but again not necessarily only on his blades. With the use of G already explained to be in use in Germany..... wait we're going in a circle again

Cheers
GC
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Old 6th June 2018, 07:42 PM   #15
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G'day GC,

Just so I am clear, is your Osborn marked eagle pommel sword actually marked Osborn, or is it just in the style of Osborn?

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 6th June 2018, 08:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce
G'day GC,

Just so I am clear, is your Osborn marked eagle pommel sword actually marked Osborn, or is it just in the style of Osborn?

Cheers,
Bryce

A clearly/fine cast in the style of the book example that is hilt marked to Osborn. I think you will find no other example that is.

Cheers
GC
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Old 6th June 2018, 09:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
G'day Guys, As all Osborn marked swords appear to have a G stamp, but some Osborn and Gunby swords do not, the most likely explanation is that at some point Osborn and Gunby stopped using the G stamp. I would like to try and narrow down what date this may have been. If anyone has a dateable Osborn and Gunby officer's sword, could you please check it for a G stamp on the ricasso and post the results here. Cheers, Bryce


The above from your explorations elsewhere. Could it be that Osborn stopped marking a G or GG to avoid confusion with others using it?


Fwiw, my frosty cast steel looking eagle pommel sword with a Woolley Deakin & Co marked blade, I don't necessarily attribute to their furbishing. My Thurkle eagle pommel undeniably the work of Thurkle's shops but not marked to them. My Ames eagle pommel undeniable that shop's work but entirely unmarked as to the shop, while the blade etch obviously theirs.

The b&g Osborn I referenced in a previous post is not clearly marked to Osborn, yet the blade artistry and the eagle form attributed to Osborn, indeed, your bright etched sword you posted above does mirror the federal eagle on the blade quite precisely. Do we then say that eagle may well not have been furbished by Osborn's shops?

I honestly have little else to offer the quest (or proof) you are undertaking. I do read that you are trying carefully not to promote the fallacy of an undistributed middle and find that admirable but I have been often confounded when finding fresh information.

Best
GC

Here is my plain Jane unmarked Osborn with a 12 on the ricasso
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Old 7th June 2018, 02:34 AM   #18
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G'day GC,

Here are some better shots of the blade decoration on my Osborn 1796 light cavalry officer's sabre that I posted above. You have obviously spent a lot more time looking at the fine details on blade decoration than I have. My philosophy is that if a sword is unmarked, it is very interesting speculating on who may have made it, but we will never know for sure.


Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 8th June 2018, 05:34 PM   #19
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Hi,
1796 pattern L.C. officers sword manufactured between 1796 and 1801, G stamp visible as one of the langets has been broken off. I also have an 1821 pattern L.C. troopers sword with hilt, blade and scabbard marked to Osborn not Osborn's, there is no sign of a stamped G consistent with your findings.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 9th June 2018, 01:37 AM   #20
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Thank you Norman. That is very helpful.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 10th June 2018, 10:39 PM   #21
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G'day Guys,

Having come across a few more examples of Osborn and Gunby marked swords without G stamps, I am once again confident that Osborn and Gunby discontinued the use of the G stamp at some stage. Also, Osborn and Gunby appear to have used a different G stamp than Osborn. The Osborn and Gunby G stamp uses a sans serif type font.

The top two photos are of Osborn and Gunby blades with the sans serif G.

The bottom photo is an Osborn 1803 sword with G stamp with "serifs".

Once again, if you have an Osborn and Gunby sword in your collection, please check it for G stamps and post the result.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 14th June 2018, 04:32 PM   #22
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I have been watching this thread with great interest, fascinating topic, one which has been largely overlooked by most writers and resources over the years. It seems that Andrew Mowbray was one of the only ones who thought it significant to note these letters which distinctly occur stamped in the ricasso of many British blades of the late 18th into 19th c.

I do have the Mowbray book, and I don't mind at all going through it, it is full of great detail, revealing the depth of knowledge Mr. Mowbray had on these swords. One thing I always appreciated about Andy, was how entirely open and selfless he was in always sharing that, and willingness to help in answering queries from anyone who asked.

In the book, he does note the 'G' as being used to designate Gill, and interestingly also notes an 'O' or an 'Ob' marked on the ricasso in the same fashion, which is suggested to represent Osborn. It is mentioned as well that the GG stamp may have been added by Gunby when he partnered with Osborn in 1808, and wanted to distinguish from Gill's single G.

As Bryce has well pointed out, this seems disputed by the many examples of Osborn blades which seem to carry the G stamp. I also am inclined to think against Gill using a simple letter to signify 'his' blades. He was indeed quite a self promoter, and his blades well illustrate that character. In these times of powerful competition, it seems well placed.

In 18th century it does seem that Sweden (perhaps even others) often used a 'P' letter at the ricasso and the suggestion was that it represented 'proved'. This sounds of course logical.

With the curious majuscule letters at the ricasso on these blades, and the well placed observations and queries Bryce has posed, the question begged is 'what do these signify'?

The obvious interpretation is that these are first letter abbreviations for the names of makers, however the evidence does not carry that through in some cases.
There is one instance of a number in the same ricasso location and likely other such instances. Is it possible these letters have other signified values which may have been coded in accord with production administration?
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Old 18th June 2018, 02:36 AM   #23
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G'day Jim,
Thanks for joining the discussion. Although in this case G isn't the initial of the maker, there are examples where the maker stamped their name here. I have seen several Runkel marked swords which are also stamped D.NEEF. According to Richard Dellar, the Neef family were prominent Solingen sword makers and also Runkel's in-laws, so it is likely they supplied many of his blades.

I have also come across a couple of British 1803 pattern swords, marked on the scabbard to Prosser, with an S stamp on the ricasso. The engraving on these blades is in the style normally found on Solingen blades.

Sometimes you come across Prosser marked swords with a P stamp on the ricasso. I don't know if this means P for Prosser or P for Proved.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Old 18th June 2018, 05:34 AM   #24
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Hi Bryce,
It remains a mystery, the actual purpose or meanings of these capital letters at the forte in these blades.
Bezdek ("Swords & Sword Makers of England and Scotland", 2003) notes on p.32 that a crown over letter and number indicates"
E=Enfield
S= Solingen
W=Wilkinson
B= Birmingham
It is unclear exactly when these letters might have been used in this manner, obviously Wilkinson was not making swords until 1850s; Enfield was not officially producing until early 1800s.
Also, these were crowned stamps, not just capital letters.

On the 'IP' 'OVER' the etched Prosser on the blade. This is truly an anomaly. As far as I have known, officers swords were not required to be inspected or 'proved' as they were private purchase by officers.

Bezdek (op.cit. p.141) notes"
Prosser (John) registered his 'IP' mark at Goldsmith Hall in April, 1796.
So clearly this ligature is his mark, and as he was indeed an official artisan for the Crown, the mark is well representative......but why deface the etched makers motif ?
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