Here is what I believe to be a coin silver julep strainer. The strainer is marked “J. POOLEY” (the “J” is very faint) and is followed by three marks, marks that are referred to as “pseudo marks”. They look similar to British hallmarks and we’re commonly used by early American silversmiths. The three marks are a “D”, a bird and a bust.
The front of the handle is engraved “J. Baum” in a lovely script.
The handle is in the “Tipped” pattern. The handle bends up slightly but doesn’t have the up and down bend in the handle (where it meets the bowl) common to other julep strainers. It measures 5 and 1/2 inches long and 2 and 3/4 inches wide, typical dimensions for an antique julep strainer. The staining holes are not symmetrical, they were obviously made by hand.
It is designed differently than any other julep strainer that I have seen. It has the scallop shaped bowl, but the bowl is more flat and the sides curve up.
I have been unable to find a patent for the scallop bowl julep strainer. Speculation is that early strainers were based on the scalloped sugar sifter design and modified to fit in a glass and strain liquids. This strainer has holes only about 3/4ths of the way across and definitely made to strain liquid from a glass or beaker. If it were a sugar sifter or tea strainer, the holes would be across the entire bowl. This strainer fits well in a glass and feels comfortable and secure in the hand when pouring. Perhaps this is a very early version of the julep strainer?
James Pooley was born in Scotland in 1825 and came to America as a young man. He married Ann Augusta Barnum in Amsterdam, NY in 1849. He was a jeweler in Amsterdam, NY, moved to New Albany, Indiana and then on to Memphis, Tennessee. He was listed as a jeweler in the 1859 Memphis Directory and J. Baum & Co., which was a saloon around the corner from James Pooley, was also listed in that same directory. John Baum was a wine and beer distributor as well. James Pooley died in 1865 as a result of a freak accident.
I have not been successful in finding another piece of silver with the J. Pooley mark. The three pseudo marks, however, are the same marks (“D”, bird, bust) that were used by James Mix. Jr. of Albany, New York on his coin silver pieces. James Mix. Jr. was born in 1822 and a silversmith in the mid to late 1800s. As far as I can see, all the pieces of his work show his name followed by those three marks. It is possible he made this strainer for Pooley, or perhaps some one else made it for Pooley, or maybe Pooley made it himself. Wish I knew.
This strainer is available here at my Etsy shop: