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Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 6332
Experience:  Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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I have an walking stick with a silver band. Hallmark is lion

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I have an ebony walking stick with a silver band. Hallmark is lion passant, town not clear but looks like a portcullis with 3 verticles, maker is JH in a diamond shape with small o between Bold J and H. Date not clear could be S

Hi David,

I'd be happy to help with this, can you attach clear photos of the mark and the walking stick itself.

Many thanks,

PS. Once you have the photos in your computer (if you are using a smart phone camera, just email them to yourself) it's then a simple matter to attach them. Just click on the paperclip icon, located above the text box where you are typing to me. If there's no paperclip, click on the "Add files" tab.

You need to be logged in to the JustAnswer site to do this. You can’t do it from email.

If you get stuck go here for help.

Alternatively, if you can collar a passing teenager with an iPhone they would have photos posted here in about two minutes. Thanks R.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have e-mailed pics to you. Are you now able to proceed?

Hi David,

By all means email me the photos, the only address that gets to me is:


Mark the email for my attention, Robert S. in the Antiques category otherwise they won't know who to send it to. I work "on" rather than "for" JustAnswer as an independent agent so all emails have to go through a third party to protect everyone's privacy. It may take up to 24 hours, but I'll let you know as soon as I see the photos this end.

Many thanks,

PS, Alternatively, you can get them to me instantly by uploading them to a free public picture hosting site. The one I prefer is

Just three clicks and a copy and paste and you are done

Go to
(no need to 'sign in' or 'sign up' it makes it too complicated)
Click on "New Post"
Click on "Browse"
Select the pictures you want to send me from the box that pops up.
Hit "open".
Click on "Copy"
and paste it here where you are typing to me.

Thanks, R

Hi David,

Thanks so much for persevering with the photos, I'm sorry I put you through such torture getting them to me.
I can now see exactly what you have and can give your walking stick my full and prompt attention.

This is indeed a difficult mark to decipher, I can understand you being puzzled.

The maker J.B in a lozenge and with a pellet between the letters, is Jonathan Howell & Co Ltd, well known in their day for cane & stick making, located on Old Street, London. EC.

They used this mark from 1906 to 1924 (though they were active as silversmiths from 1895) and if the letter is an S that makes the assay year 1913-14.

The only puzzle is that strange assay mark, which of course should be the London leopard's head.

Let me do a little more research and come back to you on that one.

Many thanks, ***** *****!

Best wishes,

Okay, I've figured out what's going on here.

That punch you aptly describe as a portcullis, is actually a Birmingham assay office anchor, that has worn in a particular way to make it look like it has three vertical bars. I'm sure if you look at it closely with a magnifying glass and roll it back and forth in strong light you should see the shape of an anchor. Here's one that's done something similar and starting to look like a portcullis too.

And if the date letter is "s" that would make it for the year 1917 -18. By this time, the silver mounts for Howell walking sticks were being made in Birmingham, rather than London, and the silver work assayed in the city where it was made even though the sticks continued to be made in London.

Hallmark punches subjected to knocks and wear in a soft metal like silver can do strange things to the marks which can become oddly misshapen.

So we have an Edwardian ebony walking stick, fully marked for J. Howell, dated 1917 with a silver collar band. In the current market it would sell at auction for £50 £90. It therefore has a full retail value of £180 (if you saw it for sale in an antique shop, say). This is also the replacement value for insurance purposes.

I do hope this helps!

Best wishes,

Howell advert from the time.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks Robert that all makes sense
I have been researching the progress of the Howell walking stick dynasty since you confirmed the maker. Apparently, in their hayday, they claimed to be biggest stick maker in the world!

Yes indeed, the biggest until World War I when casualties in the trenches in France decimated their skilled workforce -as happened to so much of industrial Britain at the time. Fully one quarter of men in the 18 to 35 age group were lost. But that's what happens when the warfare is industrial too.

Have a great weekend!


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