Certainly one of the most unusual silver objets d’ vertu of the 19th century, the cast silver stork “scissors” carrying a swaddled babe under its wing and standing on a turtle’s back, has intrigued sewing tool collectors for years. The symbolism of the stork bringing babies and the turtle as an animal of protection and longevity are a part of the mystique of these pieces. They were often given as christening gifts. The earliest silver storks date to the Georgian period but they continued to be produced by English, Continental and American silversmiths through the end of the century. The storks are alternatively suggested to have been ribbon pullers or midwives’ umbilical cord clamps (although there is no mechanism for locking the clamp in place so perhaps it was symbolic). As one researcher surmised, after the baby’s birth the clamp “would have formed part of that baby’s precious things. Baby’s clothes in the nineteenth century were adorned with laced ribbons. These ribbons had to be removed when the clothes were washed. The stork scissors with the long beak was ideal for re-threading those ribbons.”
Like other threaders or clamps of this type, this piece has been realistically modeled in the form of a stork and is embellished with chased decoration detailing the bird’s plumage and features. He stands amongst an array of flowers that are resting on the scissor type finger holes enabling a hinged scissor action. When opened, the swaddled baby is revealed. The hallmark is located on the inside of the stork’s neck. I have been unable to identify it so I do not know the maker or exact date of this piece.
The stork is in very good condition. Its one flaw is a small crack in the middle of the hallmark. Please examine the photos and feel free to contact me if you have any questions or further information about this interesting piece.
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