Thank you for your patience.
Allow me to address the questions you have about your Gorham ladle.
If the items are not marked “Sterling” or 925, then the item is not Sterling silver. It is fairly straightforward, and Gorham wouldn’t not mark a piece sterling if it is sterling. If you really want to make sure for yourself the best way would be to take the ladle to a local gold & silver buyer to have the metal tested. Metal buyers do not charge to test the metal, and they will do it right in front of you and you will see the results right in front of you with your own two eyes. You also are not obligated to sell your items through them. In other words, it is a great resource for testing and weighing any of your precious metals.
I have attached two examples of Gorham sterling marks.
If you could provide a clear, in-focus, close-up image of the Pat L??? mark, I would be able to help determine this further. You have loaded many wonderful photos, I just am not able to zoom in on that one area which is crucial information.
If a picture is not possible, then here is a link to the date code symbols:
The last mark on the line with “Pat. L??(figure mark) should match up to one of the marks in the link I have provided above. The matching mark will be the date code.
Let me know what the symbol is and what year it indicates. You mention a flying bird or rooster, there is a flying bird mark for the year 1922 and a rooster profile for 1890.
The L and the numbers are not indicative of the year nor is it an ‘L’ for ladle. Here is a link that outlines the difficulties of the Gorham marking system:
The gold wash would be referred to as “Parcel Gilt” which is used on both sterling and silver plate. It is a decorative element that is a matter of both taste and cohesion if you already owned a set of parcel gilt hollow ware. Parcel gilt was at the forefront of popularity during the Regency era in Great Britain when King George IV was flamboyantly decorating the palace in Brighton.
In the Victorian era, every utensil had a specific purpose, from cheese spoons just for Stilton and forks specific to one kind of vegetable. Your ladle does not have a dip for pouring on each side so presumably it is not for gravy or soup. The shape of the sphere on the ladle looks to indicate it needed to be weighed down, and is most likely a punch bowl ladle. Yours appears to have a Georgian revivial sphere with a rat tail on the back and a Renaissance Revival style decoration (lions’ head).
Here is a link to a site with different ladle shapes.
In regards XXXXX XXXXX link to the piece being offered on Ebay. It is very important to bear in mind that Ebay auctions are not always correct in what they state nor are the prices always realistic. The auctions on Ebay are, for the most part, not conducted by professionals or antique experts
, and due diligence is always necessary when bidding on items there. In other words, don’t believe everything the seller wrote about their item, believe the photos and what the pictures tell you about the piece. That ladle is not marked sterling. I personally would not risk that amount of money to pay for a ladle that does not have sterling marked on it. Seems that may be the consensus, since it has not sold yet.
A fancy antique sterling ladle by Gorham could sell for between $1000 - $2000. A silverplate ladle by Gorham, would usually sell for under $500. However, the market is not strong for ladles right now, and even 19th century sterling ladles by Gorham are selling for $175 - $300.
A fair amount (but not all) of the archives from Gorham are housed in the Brown University Library in Rhode Island. This is another resource for researching your piece. It would entail either doing the research on your own by booking at least 2 weeks in advance, or hiring an appraiser to go there on your behalf to conduct research.
My suggestion would be to have the metal tested first. Then, if you want to know more about the exact use and history of the ladle, the next step would be to have it researched against the Gorham archives at Brown University. The archives, however, are not complete, so it is also not a guarantee that the information on your piece will be forthwith.
Let me know if you are able to make a match on a date mark on your ladle, in comparison to the link with date marks. Or you can send a close-up of that patent marking for me.