Think of silver and you probably imagine a gleaming canteen of cutlery and silver candlesticks placed on a fine dining table on crisp, white linen. Or is that just me?
I adore silver and yearn for the style and elegance of a table which has been beautifully laid. Let TV dinners be no more.
But there is far more to good silver than stylish tableware. It comes in all shapes and forms and craftsmen and women across the world have used the precious metal for centuries to produce objects of beauty.
For example, we currently have a wonderful collection of Japanese Shibayama silver on display – and it sent our silver valuer Victoria Sheppard into raptures, such is its artistry and delicacy.
Shibayama is a Japanese art form. It involves the intricate carving and minute encrustation of various materials on to a base. The inlay typically consists of mother-of-pearl, ivory, tortoiseshell and coral, the combination creating contrasting colours and textures and a three-dimensional effect.
Shibayama was founded by the late Edo period craftsman Ōnoki Senzō, who named this technique after his hometown Shibayama.
Senzō became so celebrated for his invention, he adopted Shibayama as his surname. Following its introduction at the 1867 Paris World Expo, Shibayama treasures won fans among Western collectors and many pieces came to Europe.
Our Shibayama stars include a pair of vases from the 1868-1912 Meiji period. They feature flared necks, cast dragon handles and six guilt lacquered panels of birds in blossom, chrysanthemum and hanging baskets within a champlevé enamel encrusted ground of foliate motifs. They have an estimate of £2,000-£3,000 and will be sold in our Summer Fine Art Auction on June 29.
Selling alongside them is a silver Shibayama and enamelled vase from the same period featuring lacquered panels of birds, estimate £1,500-£2,000, plus a showstopper Shibayama enamelled chest, also Meiji.
In pagoda form, it has six sides and brims with hanging baskets and birds in blossom. But, best of all, the central door opens to reveal a Maki-e lacquered interior of three graduated drawers with leaf decoration. The detail is astonishing. Its estimate is £2,500-£3,000.
Silver like this will be keenly sought after by collectors but there is room for all types of silver in our saleroom. So often stunning silver – including canteens of cutlery - are kept for best and rarely leave the sideboard. Silver objects are often given as a present to mark a special event – such as a silver wedding anniversary - but are then tucked away.
I’d love to see all silver used, admired and on show. So, if you no longer need it, sweep it out of your cupboards and bring it to Hansons. We offer free silver valuations every Tuesday, from 10am-4pm, at our saleroom in Heage Lane, Etwall. Victoria Sheppard, who has worked at famous auction house Christie’s, can tell you what it’s worth. Entries are invited until June 1 for our Summer Fine Art sale.
Tuesday is also the day to bring along your jewellery and designer watches for free valuations by our expert consultant David Byrne. General antiques can also be valued for free on Wednesdays, 5-7pm, Fridays, 10am-4pm, and Saturdays, 9am-noon. Plus, on Saturdays, you will generally see me for valutions! I particularly welcome Chinese and Japanese porcelain and works of art.