Monday, February 21, 2011

Tackling The Tarnish

In the past I have posted about this silver shuttle, given to me by a friend of the family who had it for years.  It had been given to her by a relative and she thought it was quite old.

Yesterday, while tooling around Tat-land, I came across this method of cleaning tarnished silver on Sharren's site. Crazy Mom has a post all about it here, as well.

I used a glass container, aluminum foil, baking soda, table salt and boiling water. I mixed all this up and plunked the shuttle in and stirred it for a bit.  Repeated the process.  Success!

The back is stamped C.B.&H. (Codding Bros. & Heilborn, South Attleboro MA) Sterling.

Codding Bros. & Heilborn was founded in 1862 in North Attleboro and went out of business in May 1918. They were manufacturers of sterling silver novelties. (Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers, Rainwater & Redfield, 1998)

After it was all cleaned up I could really see the stamp and got to wondering about the origins of this shuttle and who had made it.  Enter the Internet.

Where would we be without this amazing reference tool for information that it would have taken weeks to find in "the olden days"?

There you have it.  A sterling silver shuttle, made in Massachusetts,  that is  probably one hundred years old or close to it, as it could not have been manufactured after 1918.  Amazing.  If it could talk, what an interesting story it could tat...

I did try to use this shuttle after it had gone through its metamorphosis and found I was very clumsy with it.  I kept dropping it and it seemed to be weighted in all the wrong places.  This made me think more about its previous owners.

My thought is that tatters of years gone by did not have the option of light, well-moulded plastics.  They did have wood and the early plastic-like materials  were light, but the metals were more demanding of control and possibly time. The tips are difficult to keep tight. It is a bit tricky to wind the thread on the silver shuttle, as there is no give at all.  That shuttle is hard and cold.

This shuttle definitely takes more time to load and is tricky with that hard silver point. It is heavy. It is weighted oddly. Yes, I do think tatters of an earlier era had a more difficult "tat" than I do with my tiny, trusty Clovers.


  1. Wouldn't we love to see what has been tatted with it over the years???

  2. I have some intricate metal design ones (reproductions) that I use at period demos sometimes. They really are a pain to tat with but I suppose the user would eventually break it in or adapt to its characteristics. Metal just doesn't like to stay in my hand. (including money)

  3. Interesting thoughts, and a very pretty shuttle!

    When you said that the company went out of business in 1918, it brought to my mind the thought: "Hey, that's when my Grandma was born!"

    I had thoughts of purchasing some of the silver shuttles (just for posterity's sake), but seemed to have held myself back as I don't really like heavy shuttles and I wouldn't want it to just 'sit there and look pretty' (though I'd still like to have one!)

    It would be neat if it could tell its tale!

  4. Fantastic shuttle. Maybe is not very good to use, but looks great and speak to your imagination.

  5. Your shuttle is beautiful! I've used that method to shine silver before... it's like magic!

    Oh, to have seen the lace made with that shuttle...

  6. Hi Fox! Your post is inspiring me to clean up the shuttle I scored in an antique store last October - and see if I can find out anything more about it. If shuttles could talk! (Wait. I don't think I want my shuttles to repeat the frustrated language I use on occasion.)

  7. Just to be able to hold it in your hand though, is goose-bumpy; I have a private view of History that in the end, and down the ages, we have all touched it. I have held my grandmother's hand - (she was born in 1883), and she held the hand of a woman who survived the Cawnpore Massacre during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
    I imagine all of humanity straddling the ages, holding hands - it's a beautiful thing, to be able to hold a piece of history in your hand!

  8. I agree with all that's been said - it's a piece of history that you can hold in your hand. What could it tell us if it could talk!

  9. Fox, que maravilla tener esa lanzadera tan antigua, indudablemente de colección. Cuantos encajes bellos habrán tejido con ella; cuantas horas de esparcimiento de sus antiguas dueñas; cuanta historia. FELICIDADES

  10. It would be lovely to find out who used it over the years and what they made. It sounds a bit of a handful which makes me wonder if they just kept it to look at rather than use it. Looking at some very old shuttles here in the UK they were very small. which makes me wonder if it was used.