Over the centuries the artistry and workmanship of silver objects has delighted connoisseurs and collectors and today it is still highly valued and fashionable.
Nevertheless, I still visit so many people across our county who have been persuaded that silver objects are only worth the value of the silver from which they are made, which is heartbreaking, and very often could not be further from the truth. The high price of silver certainly has to be taken into consideration but the maker, date, quality of design, manufacture, condition, and the rarity of the piece have a significant impact on values too. It really is weight plus artistry.
Take for example the George III teapot and pair of George III candlesticks which sold recently in Toovey’s specialist silver auctions for more than three times their scrap value.
The George III silver teapot had a beautifully conceived putto finial. The body, spout, handle and foot were profusely cast, engraved and chased with scrolling flower and leaf sprays, and with a wonderful mask to the handle. It was hallmarked in London in 1808 and made by the celebrated silversmith Robert Garrard I. In 1802 he had taken over the firm founded by George Wickes in 1722. The firm would remain in the family until 1946 specialising in elaborate domestic silver and fine jewellery. The name Garrard remained synonymous with pieces of the finest quality. The company was appointed as Crown Jewellers by Queen Victoria in 1843, a position it held until 2007. The teapot sold for £900.
The pair of early George III cast silver candlesticks were made by Richard Morson & Benjamin Stephenson whose partnership was founded in 1762 and lasted until 1774. They were known for producing candlesticks and chambersticks. This pair of candlesticks were made in 1772. The elegant hexagonal shell and gadrooned edges to the feet, beneath wrythen stems and detachable nozzles, displays a real artistry and quality of craftsmanship. They realised £1600.
The market at auction for silver objects is particularly strong at the moment with people looking to buy teapots and services, candlesticks, canteens of cutlery, as well as finely worked and novelty pieces even when they are of later date.
So before you consign your silver to be melted down please ask the unbiased opinion of Toovey’s silver specialist and Director, Tom Rowsell, or you risk throwing the baby out with the bath water!