This must qualify as one of the best wine funnels I have had, and I have had a good many. It is very well made from heavy-gauge silver and is in excellent condition. The lower section of the bowl and the upper area of the spout are well reeded, the latter being cast. The tip of the spout has not been shortened and repaired as so many have; it is in almost pristine condition. The rim of the bowl is reeded, while that of the strainer is corded and retains its original 'tang' - the small element that allows the strainer to hang over a bowl. The tang is engraved with a monogram (JES). The strainer also retains its muslin ring - a narrow ring of silver which allows a piece of muslin to be held inside the funnel for fine filtering. These are often missing.
The one element of the funnel which is less than perfect is the hallmarks. They are clear and can be read, but the date-letter is lightly struck, although it can be deduced. The mark of John Robins is overstriking that of another maker (a common practice in Georgian London) whose surname had the initial 'T'.
One has to remember that the maker struck his mark on the unfinished funnel (or any other piece of silver),before it was sent to be assayed and have the hallmarks stamped. This had the effect of creating quite a dent in the silver, so it was returned to the silversmith who straightened out the dents caused by striking the hallmarks and his own before it was given a final polish. It was in these last stages of production that silver marks were usually degraded, sometimes to the point of illegibility.
If I did not already have one, I would be sorely tempted to keep this funnel for myself, but I must let someone else have the pleasure!
London 1817, by John Robins, 143 grams, 4 oz.12 dwt.
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