but in conversations about the various meanings of all these numbers, I found out that knowledge about these is sketchy at best. 1 shows the lid and rim of a sauce tureen, bearing the numbers 4, thus indicating that lid fits to body, but also that this tureen was one of a set of four. Larger collections with multiples of the same items introduced inventory numbers.
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.
Fig.2 shows a beautiful entre dish by Mortimer and Hunt, London 1843, the lid does not quite fit and the numbers on body and lid '1 and 4' tell the rest of the story. The fact, that they are numbered with 13, 14, 18, 20, 21 and 22 proves that there must have been 24 or more at one time. (note 3) Many but by far not all early silver pieces have weights scratched in underneath. Additions on English silver pieces are of course marked with contemporary hallmarks, but sometimes one has to really look hard for these in elaborate borders and handles.
Another probable theory of the origin of the word mariachi is that it originated in the language of the Cora, an indigenous people of Nayarit (not Jalisco where the band originated).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.Wine coolers and soup tureens and their liners are often such numbered, with the proper way of assembly (after cleaning) in mind. B- Inventory numbers with two parts were used for sets of plates and flatware, as for example in Lot 98 'A set of twelve German Silver Dinner plates, J. Drentwett I, Augsburg 1755-57' is numbered with 33-1 to 33-12. Lot 84 'A German silver-gilt dessert service, Johann Beckert V, Augsburg 1757 '59' consisting of forty-two dessert spoons, forty-two dessert forks and forty-two dessert knives with silver blades and are stamped with inventory numbers: 9-1 to 12, 10-1 to 12, 11-1 to 12 and 12-1 to 6. Deviations from the scratch weight are indicators for alterations: A conversion from a teapot into a (much higher prized) tea caddy by removing the spout and handle, conversion from a larger mug to a teapot, added borders, spouts, handles: the examples are endless.To reduce misunderstandings about the date, it was normal in parish registers to place a new year heading after 24 March (for example "1661") and another heading at the end of the following December, "1661/62", to indicate that in the following few weeks the year was 1661 Old Style but 1662 New Style.Some more modern sources, often more academic ones, also use the "1661/62" style for the period between 1 January and 25 March for years before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in England. Through enactment of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, Britain and the British Empire (including much of what is now the eastern part of the United States) adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, by which time it was necessary to correct by 11 days.