Centuries-old silverware shines bright as evocative reminder of dining in style

Posted on 06/10/2020 in Press Coverage

In the fast-food, tea-on-a-tray world we live in, it’s wonderful to be reminded of the art of dining in style by our ancestors.

Picture the scene, a fire roaring in the period drawing room with candelabras aglow on an antique mahogany table. And there, shimmering in the flickering golden light, a rich array of heavyweight silverware, so beautifully made and elaborate each piece resembles a work of art in itself.

I was reminded of my admiration for antique silverware when splendid 200-year-old examples arrived for assessment. Put simply, they are exquisite. For example, we have a George III silver coffee pot in a baluster shape awash with extravagant use off scrolling foliage and flowers. It was made in 1810 by Samuel Hennell. What a jaw-dropping object to place on a table, particularly at important celebrations such as Christmas. It has an estimate of £500-£700. Such artistry is surely worth every penny.

Samuel was part of the Hennell dynasty which began with goldsmith David Hennell (1712-1785). He founded a jewellery/silversmith business in Gutter Lane, London, in 1736 and it grew to become one of the city’s best-known jewellers. In 1802 Samuel (1778-1837) joined the family firm and his beautiful coffee pot bears testament to his extraordinary skill. The Hennell name lives on in London today – a byword for quality and craftsmanship.

Equally impressive is a Victorian silver butterdish with blue glass liner made by Charles Fox in 1839, estimate £400-£600. What a celebration piece to display a humble slab of butter.

The Fox family were also London silversmiths. The firm was founded by Charles Fox in the early 1800s. In 1822, Fox’s son, also named Charles and born in 1801, took over. His works is renowned for its consistent quality. Fox is regarded as the last individualist plateworker before Victorian mass production.

For any collector of silverware either piece would be an impressive addition, and both remind me why I love the antiques world so much. It’s a privilege to handle such fine objects and help them on their way to loving homes where they will be appreciated for years to come.

Silver like this can excel in our Fine Art auctions, the next one being on October 29-30. Objects are currently invited for our November Fine Art sale but they do not need to be centuries-old to do well. For example, in our September Fine Art Auction, lot 32, a 1970s House of Lawrian for Christopher N Lawrence modern silver eight-piece drinks set soared to £3,000.

If you have some silver, jewellery or a watch you’re considering consigning to auction, expert Kate Bliss will be offering free valuations at Hansons in Etwall, near Derby, on Wednesday Oct 14, 10am-3pm, and Bishton Hall, Staffs, on October 15, 10am-3pm.

Her days are filled with dazzling discoveries such as a collection of exquisite rings currently being assessed. These include a diamond and emerald dress ring, estimate £1,200-£1,800; a striking diamond solitaire ring featuring a gem in excess of 3.5 carats, estimate £8,000-£12,000, and a sapphire and diamond ring, estimate £1,500-£2,000.

For jewellery, silver and watch buyers or sellers, an auction offers something special. Our global reach across 60 countries helps us maximise prices achieved for sellers. Meanwhile, buyers gain good value compared to high street prices and discover rare and unusual items. Some people like to sell and buy. They let go of a piece of jewellery to replace it with something different.

In addition, action sales are buoyant. In our September Fine Art Jewellery Auction top sellers included lot 158, a diamond and 18ct white gold cluster ring which reached £6,000. Then there was lot 180, a diamond and 18ct gold tennis bracelet which was contested to £4,300.

And we must never forget watches which Kate Bliss and my team also value. Lot 208, a good limited-edition gents’ IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Cousteau Divers titanium and stainless-steel wristwatch made £3,400.

Other top sellers included lot 168, a diamond and 18ct gold dress ring (£3,000); lot 39, an Elizabeth II silver 10-piece flatware service by Roberts & Belk (£2,600); lot 182, a UK Britannia Spirt of a Nation premium six-coin gold proof set, 2019 (£2,500) and lot 177, a pair of diamond-set 18ct white gold bangles (£2,300).

Whatever you’re thinking of selling, we would love to see you. Hansons Auction Centre, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS, is open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, for free valuations, or visit us on Saturdays, 9am-noon. We have an airy valuation marquee, Covid-19 regulations are strictly adhered to and no appointments are necessary.

You are also free to pop down to see Kate Bliss at a time to suit you. She will be at Etwall Auction Centre on Wednesday October 14, 10am-3pm, and Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge Staffs, ST17 0XN, on October 15, 10am-3pm. Alternatively, you can make a jewellery/watch/silver valuation appointment or book a free home visit by emailing head of jewellery Helen Smith: [email protected].