Monday, March 20, 2017

We are back  after a long absence and ready to talk about our special items of American antique sterling silver that we have acquired. We hope you will find the articles informative and useful.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Royal Silver Tea Caddy

On a recent buying trip we found a tea caddy in the shape of a picnic basket with two sides that flap open. The royal coat of arms on the lids is that of the King of Hanover, Ernst Augustus who also happened to be the 5th son of King George 3rd. He was the Duke of Cumberland. Remember that the Kings of England came from Hanover. They were selected after Queen Anne died without heirs. The throne passed to the descendants of James VI of Scotland in Hanover. Queen Victoria would have become Queen of Hanover when she ascended the throne but a law prohibited a woman from taking that position and so it was passed to the Duke of Cumberland.

After viewing a recent television program on the young restless royals of Europe the focus fell on the Hanover heirs and they declared that because of their need to raise funds they put up the family silver in London and that is how this came to be on the market.

If you would like to see more detailed pictures of the tea caddy take look at:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why all the French Touchmarks on Tiffany 1880 Silver

I have noticed that on so many of the better Tiffany pieces from the 1880 period that have come up on the market a large percentage bear French touch marks. They were obviously sold in France and most probably at the Tiffany store in Paris.

I am aware that the Tiffany Paris store was very important in the last quarter of the 19th century. In fact I was told by a reliable source that the Tiffany store in Paris was treated on a par with the New York store by Tiffany and Co.

Chatting to a very knowledgeable collector who was showing me a museum piece of Tiffany from the 1880s the other day, I drew his attention to the French control mark. He shrugged and calmly said that France was where all the money was at that time and where the real collectors were.

Putting it all together, I would guess that many of the important pieces were sold in France and that was mainly because the economy was not so strong in America at the time. Most people do not know that Wall street went through a terrible period in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A surprise in a box

Almost 25 years ago when I was in Portobello Road in London one Saturday morning I noticed an amazing child's cup in the most amazing condition and in the original box. The combination of the satin finished silver areas combined with the green gold parcel gilt and engraving was a lesson in the finest engraving and the finest example of the Aesthetic Movement.

I purchased the mug and went off on my way. I knew the dealer and I was surprised when a few minutes later they asked me if I would let them have the mug back because they did not really want to sell it.

This happens quite often in the antique trade and it could be a case of remorse on the part of the seller or anything else that would pass through the mind of the seller after too little sleep on a Friday night before the market.

I stood my ground and sounding a bit like Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers I said: "What is the bloody point of me looking on your stand in the first place if you want it back within a few minutes". They backed off and all was forgotten. It was not mentioned again.

The cup was sold in Kansas City at a show in that same year.

A few days ago I spotted the cup on the east coast and purchased it back. I recognized the inscription and the fantastic condition.

Twenty Five years later I was holding something that I had owned before and it was quite an odd feeling. One realized that these trinkets will outlive us all and we have to treat them as if we are just caretakers.

Take a look at the mug and details by clicking on the link below

Friday, May 29, 2009

Schultz and Fischer and George Shiebler

Schultz and Fischer leaf form bowl with handle and bug

I had no idea that Californian silversmiths were making silver in 1880 that looked exactly like the work of George Shiebler in New York. Shiebler used leaves and bugs held together with silver pins and usually lightly gold washed the pieces.

We recently found a most unusual version of this type of work by Schultz and Fischer. I had to scratch my head to work out the maker because the mark was not that clear but we managed to put it together and it all made sense.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tiffany Vine Shown at the Columbian Expo

Tiffany Columbian Expo Mark
Tiffany Vine Forks Displayed at the Columbian Expo 1983

About 20 years ago I acquired a lightly gold washed dessert set in the Tiffany Vine pattern. After I got it home I examined it closely and noticed that five of the individual place pieces had a strange mark added to the reverse of the bowls. It turned out to be the Columbian Expo mark from 1893 indicating that these pieces were on display in Chicago in the Tiffany pavilion.

A few weeks ago the same thing happened. I purchased 11 forks in the Tiffany Vine pattern with that same gold wash. 5 of the forks are struck with that special mark. These pieces were all part of the same set.

About 3 years ago the Flagler museum in Florida held an exhibit of Tiffany silver exhibited at the Columbian Expo and I went to see the exhibit. I bought a book about the Columbian Expo pieces made by Tiffany and read at the back that Tiffany made sent 118 pieces of Vine to the exhibit.
To see the detailed pictures of the forks click on the link below:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Gorham Narragansett Pattern

Rare Gorham Narragansett Preserve Spoon 8 3/4"

Over the past 30 years we have had the good fortune of finding many rare flatware items but the pattern that remains in our minds as the most exotic and rare is the Narragansett pattern by Gorham.

We recently found a rare preserve spoon which measures 8 3/4" long. There are numerous fish included is the applications to the central shaft among the other nautical creatures such as shells, crabs. clams and conch shells. These items are cast and applied individually and the detail never ceases to amaze admirers who examine the intricate handles.

Gorham went to such lengths to make the spoons look realistic that they included tiny globules of silver "sand" in the design. This gives the spoons the appearance of having being removed from the ocean floor. It is as if the spoon had been lying at the bottom of the ocean and the result is the encrusted look and feel. No wonder every silver collector who understands what Gorham was trying to do wants to own a piece of Narragansett.

I remember being fussy and turning down large pieces of Narragansett pattern because the Gorham hallmark was not visible. I think this was a mistake because the marks were probably lurking somewhere beneath the shells and fish and seaweed. Some pieces are marked in the bowl of a shell at the terminal but most have the Gorham hallmark on the central shaft together with the sterling mark.

Recently I found Gorham date letter for 1884 which really was exciting. This tells us that the Narragansett pattern was definitely made in the hollow ware department at Gorham and also that it was a really early example. It had great weight and proportion.

Take a look at our site to see the Narragansett preserve spoon under Recent Acquisitions: