Handle from a silver spoon or fork, with straight edges, rounded anterior end, lip turned inwards and profiles marked by a perimeter moulding, characteristic of one of the Spanish models that was most common during the last quarter of the 18th century.
Salto de línea On the back, the inscription “J.G” is stamped, which can be interpreted as an ownership mark, and may correspond to Captain José Manuel de Goicoa, killed in the battle during which two Spanish frigates were lost. On the reverse side, three imprints appear. The only one which has been identified is a mark with a chronological indicator: castle / 76 (?); the other two are unclear. We are led to think in this case that one of them is the assay stamp of Madrid (the bear and the strawberry tree inside a crowned shield) and that the other states the name of the Madrid workshop that made at least this piece. Unfortunately, this stamp is indecipherable.
Salto de línea In spite of the state of deterioration of the marks, at least one of them indicates that it was produced in Madrid (castle) and it might have been assayed in 1776. As it was made in Madrid around this date –in fact from 1766 onwards– this mark should be accompanied by another one corresponding to the town, which could be the one next to the maker's mark. Given the great similarity of these types of pieces during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, it is impossible to make out distinguishing features attributing the work to one of the many silversmiths who worked in the capital of Spain at that time.
Salto de línea On the other hand, the stamping method used to mark the ownership of the object is interesting. Although it is not a unique case, it would have been more common to mark the initials with a deeper, more elegant engraving. Stamping was normally used for sets consisting of several pieces, rather than for simple sets of a spoon, a fork, and in some cases, a knife.
Salto de línea This piece could therefore be part of a more extensive cutlery production line, made in a Madrid workshop in 1776. Only around twenty of the objects recovered from the frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes document the food on board. The remains of spoons, forks and glass bottles bear witness to the tableware used by officers and passengers.
Javier Alonso BenitoSalto de línea