Monday, April 10, 2017

The Year 1851


This two piece English antique silver fish serving set has the date of 1851. The maker was Hilliard and Thomason. The handle and silver blades have engraved and chased water lilies.

1851 was the year of the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, the first of the great expositions that became the place for the world to meet and exchange ideas. It was the brainchild of the Prince Consort, Albert husband of Queen Victoria.

One of the great showpieces of the first exposition was the display of exotic flora and I think these inspired designs like this. It has become an iconic piece of Victoriana and quite often comes in the original fitted case of a retailer. Thus particular set is in pristine condition.

The crystal palace was all glass and steel and it had a problem. Birds got in and could not get out. The story goes that Queen Victoria and Albert were troubled and in a conversation brought up the subject with Arthur the Duke of Wellington because they could not shoot the birds for fear of breaking the glass. The Iron Duke responded by telling the Prince Consort to put some birds of prey in that could be recalled after killing the birds. Success!

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