The Silver Department continues to hold the highest sold rate for any department at Roseberys, illustrating the enduring demand for silverware. British and Continental pieces continue to perform well, and bidders also compete fiercely for desirable examples of Russian, Asian and American silver. Roseberys benefits from a strong team of Russian, Chinese and European language speakers who conduct dedicated research into important works consigned from around the world.
The department has an excellent auction record for British and international silverware, with works by household names such as Nathaniel Mills, the Barnard Brothers, Matthew Boulton, Robert Ashbee, Hester Bateman, Paul Storr and the royal suppliers Rundell, Bridge & Rundell consistently commanding strong prices. 17th and 18th century pieces remain particularly popular with collectors: recent highlights include a Charles II wine goblet which sold for £9100 and a William & Mary presentation tankard making £11,700. Small contemporary collectibles by designers such as Stuart Devlin, Jocelyn Burton and Sarah Jones are also performing well.
Roseberys has a strong base of domestic and international buyers who continue to bid competitively for silver from Continental Europe and further afield. Recent sales include a beautiful Augsburg parcel gilt ladies’ tankard which sold above estimate for £3640 and a pair of Portuguese candelabra candlesticks achieving £5460. Russian silver by important firms and makers such as Fabergé, Khlebnikov, Ovchinnikov and the Grachev Brothers continues to see strong demand, and a recent white-glove sale of Silver and Judaica demonstrated that there is a ready market for silver items of Judaica such as 19th century Esther scroll cases, Torah pointers and menorah. One of the highlights of this private collection was an Italian Sefer Torah and ark which sold for £24,700.
Other previous highlights have included a Fabergé Serpent Clock that sold for £76,000, a private collection of silver jewellery by Naum Slutzky, a George III silver creamer London c.1762, by John Schuppe from a private collection of early English and Irish silver, achieved £8,200. From the same collection an Irish snuff box, Cork c.1780, by Carden Terry sold for £8,000 and a Charles II goblet c.1677 achieving £10,000
The enduring demand for silver can be attributed to its dual appeal as both a practical and decorative form of art. Over the centuries it has been commissioned, exchanged, gifted, looted and sold, often being melted and reworked because of changing fashions, or religious and political turmoil. Thanks to its prevalence, durability and historical importance as both a physical and symbolic representation of wealth, silver provides us with a tangible connection to history and offers one of the most varied fields for collection of any art form.
British history is reflected brightly in its silverware: from the financial strain and austerity of the Commonwealth period echoed in the rarity and simplicity of its Puritan and Slip-top spoons (it is said that Cromwell’s Puritan soldiers deemed the Apostle spoons of the previous centuries ‘irreverent’ and lopped off their figural terminals with their swords!), to the religious turmoil of 17th and 18th century Europe, which precipitated the arrival of refugee Protestant Huguenot silversmiths from France. These craftsmen brought with them a wealth of sophisticated sculptural designs which changed the face of British silversmithing and had a profound influence on the decorative arts of the day. Our present cultural and economic environment – as well as the technical evolution of the craft of silversmithing – continues to shape present-day design, and skilled silversmiths are busy translating the cultural context of today into the physical silver collectibles of tomorrow.
The silver department at Roseberys continues to enjoy year-on-year growth and regularly achieves successful sales to some of the world’s leading museums and private collectors. The department’s strong results are underpinned by the team’s wealth of specialist knowledge and extensive market experience. We are always happy to offer complimentary auction valuations and market advice so please do not hesitate to get in touch if we can be of assistance.