Ball, Tompkins Black "Prince Albert" Coin Banquet Fork
"Prince Albert" is a design that is attributed to Michael Gibney, but which shows up in the marketplace under various nameplates (Gibney rarely marked his own work). Indeed this exceptionally long, 8 1/8", and heavy, 2.3 T. oz., fork is stamped "Ball, Tompkins & Black." A firm of high standing, successors to Marquand & Co. in 1839 before becoming "Ball, Black & Co." in 1851, it may have enjoyed a particularly close business connection with Gibney. The entry in Rainwater's "Encyclopedia of American Manufacturers" notes "He was issued the first Design Patent for a flatware design in this country. Pieces in this pattern are marked 'Ball, Black & Co.,' 'Ball, Tompkins & Black' with a 'Y', or completely unmarked." Curiously the mark on this includes a "V" as well as an "eagle." A general assumption is these are journeymen's marks. This size is larger than a typical American dinner fork, characteristically 7 1/2" to 7 3/4" long, and is more in keeping with an English or European scale, and is often referred to as a banquet fork. There is a feathered script "FAH" monogram on the front. The condition is excellent. Apart from minimal tip wear and surface scratches consistent with age, the piece is flawless.