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Pure silver is generally too soft for producing functional objects; so silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and appearance of the precious metal. Other metals are sometimes used instead of the copper. The standard alloy, sterling silver, is 92.5% silver. This standard has been used since at […]  Continue Reading »

Silver Hallmarks

Four marks are usually stamped on silver: the “hall” (or town) mark, the maker’s mark, the “annual” (or date) and the “standard” (or sterling quality) mark. The most important hall marks are: Anchor Birmingham Britannia London from1716 to 1719 Castle over a lion (passant) Norwich Crown Sheffield Crown upside down Sheffield between 1815 and 1819 […]  Continue Reading »

Silver Tea Pots, Coffee Pots & Chocolate Pots

Tea, coffee and chocolate became popular in England in the first half the 18th century. The earliest silver teapots, before about 1730, were pear-shaped. “Bullet-shaped” (almost spherical) teapots were popular from 1730 to about 1750 when the first English porcelain teapots became available. Silver teapots were rarely produced from that date until about 1770, when […]  Continue Reading »

Silver Trays, Platters & Salvers

Very few silver salvers survive from before about 1660. Most early salvers were round, with square ones being produced between about 1720 an d 1740. Silver trays, essentially salvers with handles, were not produced until late in the 18th century. They were usually oblong or oval.   Antique silver trays, platters & salvers available now(Clicking […]  Continue Reading »

Silver Spoons, Knives & Forks

Spoons, knives and forks are known collectively as “flatware”. The name comes from the Middle Ages when table implements consisted of knives and spatula-like implements, called presentoirs, used for presenting portions of food to guests. Unlike spoons and forks, both these types of implement actually were flat. (“Cutlery” refers to all types of cutting implements, […]  Continue Reading »

Silver Drinking Vessels

Silver beakers were made in England from the 15th century until late in the 18th century. Silver tumblers are small beakers which were made from about 1660 to the end of the 18th century. These were made by hammering a single sheet of silver, leaving most of the weight in base. If they were knocked […]  Continue Reading »

American Silver & Ceramics – Gorham

The Gorham company was founded, as Gorham Silver, in 1831. Initially, Gorham manufactured spoons and other small silver items from coin silver. From about 1850 to 1940, Gorham silverware was highly influential. William Christmas Codman, one of Gorham’s most noted designers, created the Chantilly design in 1895, which became the most famous of Gorham’s flatware […]  Continue Reading »

Paul Revere

Paul Revere is the most famous early American silversmith and a hero of the American Revolution. Amongst other things, he also established a cast iron foundry, was a leading manufacturer of bells and canon and the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets. Paul Revere started his business career as a silversmith with a […]  Continue Reading »

Australian Silver

The rapid increase in population and wealth during the Australian Gold Rush in the early 1850s created the conditions for the production of the first significant Australian silver pieces. Fashionable jewellers were unable to keep up with the demand pieces with imports from England taking up to a year to reach them. Silversmith like Ernest […]  Continue Reading »

Georg Jensen Silver

The Danish silversmith Georg Jensen is widely regarded as having produced some of the most outstanding silver works of the 20th century. Jensen was a sculptor who began working in silver in 1904. His minimal use of decoration followed the Scandinavian tradition but was a great contrast to the extravagant decoration of the dominant English […]  Continue Reading »

Tin, Pewter & Britannia Metal

Tin has been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians and was exported in large quantities from Cornwall to ancient Rome. The ancient Egyptians thought that tin and lead were different forms of the same metal. Lead usually occurs as the mineral galena, which also contains small amounts of silver. The ancient Romans mined galena […]  Continue Reading »

Pewter Touches

Because pewter contains lead, which is poisonous, the composition of pewter must be controlled so that it does not harm its users. For this reason, pewterware has had marks, called “touches”, from as early as the Middle Ages. The first mention of marks indicating the quality of pewter in England dates from 1474.The oldest marks […]  Continue Reading »

Iron & Steel

In Europe in the Middle Ages, blacksmiths produced wrought iron (that is, iron which was hammered into shape when hot) weapons, tools and fittings for the dors of castles and cathedrals. Wrought iron railings (“iron lace”) became popular in the 17th and 18th centuries and, in the mid-19th century, wrought iron furniture became popular in […]  Continue Reading »

Copper, Bronze & Brass

The working of copper began about 10,000 BC with the beating of small nuggets of copper, picked up from the ground, into use and decorative objects. Around 3,500 BC the process of producing copper from ores by smelting (initially in pottery kilns) was discovered and resulted in a great increase in the amount of copper […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Bronzes

Although carvings in marble, bone and jade exist, the great art of the Shang dynasty (1523 to 1028 B.C.) was that of ritual bronze vessels. These were intended to hold wine, water, grain and meat to be used in sacrificial rites. The vessels were decorated with stylised representations of animals, governed by rigid conventions. A […]  Continue Reading »

Indian Bidri Metalware

The technique of decorating blackened base metals with silver has been practiced in Bidri in central India since the 15th century. The item is cast in an alloy containing mostly zinc. The pattern is then chiselled out and inlaid with silver. The item is then covered with mud containing chemicals, particularly ammonia, which darken the […]  Continue Reading »

Islamic Copper, Silver & Bronze

From 1037 to 1194, the Seljuks united Mesopotamia and most of Persia under their rule. During this period, the technique of decorating bronze vessels with inlaid silver or copper, or both, was developed in eastern Persia. From here the technique spread to Mosul (now Al Mawsil in northern Iraq) with which it became particularly associated. […]  Continue Reading »

Thai Bronzes

The Thais learned the art of bronze casting from the Indians. During the early centuries A.D., Indian culture totally dominated Thailand, and indeed most of South Asia, bringing with it Hindu and, later, Buddhist religion and art. In Thailand, the Indian Buddha image was influenced by Khmer and Burmese art to emerge as a unique […]  Continue Reading »

Thai Gold

Despite the fact that gold is not found in abundance in Thailand, a wealth of gold artefacts have been produced. The most popular use of gold was in the form of gold leaf applied to Buddha images to promote spiritual well-being. The characteristic Thai art of overlaying black lacquer with gold leaf to create intricately […]  Continue Reading »