The Enduring Appeal of Silver

A George III silver teapot of compressed circular form made by Robert Garrard I and hallmarked in London in 1808

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.

A pair of early George III cast silver candlesticks by Richard Morson & Benjamin Stephenson, hallmarked in London in 1772

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!

Celebrating More Than 500 Years of The English Gold Sovereign

An Elizabeth II Royal Mint proof sovereign four-coin set commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the First Gold Sovereign 1489-1989

This week I am in the company of Toovey’s Coin specialist, Mark Stonard. He shows me An Elizabeth II Royal Mint proof sovereign four-coin set which commemorates the 500th Anniversary of the First Gold Sovereign in 1489 through to 1989. The set includes examples of the whole family of Sovereign coins and includes a five pounds, a double-sovereign, a sovereign and a half-sovereign. Cased and with its certificate it has just sold in his specialist coin sale for £4600.

Mark says “In 1489 Henry VII ordered the officers of the Royal Mint to produce a new money of gold. It wasn’t the first English gold coin but it was certainly the largest and most important at that date. The coin became a symbol of stability and power and every monarch had their own versions struck up until James I in 1603.

“The Sovereign was reintroduced in 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo when it was found that there was demand for a new 20 shilling gold coin. The new coin was produced in 1817. It was about half the size and weight of the first Sovereign. The reverse was decorated in relief with a depiction of St George defeating the dragon designed by Benedetto Pistrucci. He was one of the world’s most celebrated gem engravers at that time and it shows in the quality of his design. His design was used until 1825 when it was replaced by the Royal Coat of Arms. In 1871 St George appeared again but next to a shield. It wasn’t until 1887 that Pistrucci’s earlier St George design was reintroduced for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It’s appeared on every subsequent Sovereign to the present day.”

Toovey’s coin specialist, Mark Stonard

I ask Mark if it is just the value of the gold which gave this set its value. He replies “The high gold price certainly has to be taken into consideration but condition, date, the quality of design and the rarity of the coins in question also have a significant affect on values. This set sold for almost double its bullion price.” I suggest that the value reflects weight plus artistry and Mark agrees. He continues “There is an increasing appetite amongst collectors to buy and sell their gold coins in our specialist auctions as the prices are strong but realistic.”

Whether your passion is for Saxon Sceats or a gold proof Sovereign Mark’s knowledge is extraordinary.

Chet’s Modi and NFU Mutual Celebrating Our Farming Community

Harry O’Neill ploughing with his 1963 Massey Fergusson

I caught up with Chets Modi, the Managing Partner of the Horsham, Henfield and Chichester offices of NFU Mutual at the 2023 West Grinstead Plough Match and Agricultural Society ploughing match.

Chets explained “For more than a century NFU Mutual has provided insurance to farmers, their businesses and families, and today that quality of service is available for people from all walks of life. We are a mutual owned by our customers with no shareholders which allows us to provide a very personal service with a long term view in all that we do. Our customers are members.

“The value of community was instilled in me as I grew up and I love that, through my job, I live amongst our brilliant farming community. Through our offices we bring this community together with social events and gatherings – farmers often work on their own so meeting with friends and neighbours is important and we see that as an integral part of our role. Farming sits at the heart of our business.

“I help on the committee of the West Grinstead Plough Match. It provides a great opportunity for the public to see what farming is really about.

Chets Modi of NFU at the 2023 West Grinstead Plough Match

“I’m an ambassador not just of the NFU but also of the farming community. We help to bring farmers into schools, sometimes they bring tractors, sometimes the children visit the farms. It is important that our young people know where their food comes from. As a parent I want my children to value where their food comes from and good stewardship. There’s a lot to celebrate in the diversity of approaches to farming in this part of the world.”

I commented on the significant changes in the values of art, antiques and collectors’ items in recent years and how at Toovey’s we always impress on our clients the importance of making sure that their valuations are up to date to ensure they pay the correct premiums and to be able to plan for the future. Chets replied “I agree, especially for the type of high value homes and collections we insure under our Bespoke Home Insurance policies.”

I walked out into the fields and discovered Harry O’Neill of Whitebridge Farm, Wineham, ploughing with his 1963 Massey Ferguson, proudly watched by his Dad and Grandpa. I learnt that this was only Harry’s second season competing in the West Grinstead Plough Match. He was doing a fine job. It’s exciting to see a passion for farming seeded in a younger generation.

Celebrating 40 Years as an Auctioneer and Valuer

Toovey’s Toy specialist, Auctioneer and Valuer, Chris Gale

Chris Gale is celebrating his 40th anniversary as an auctioneer and valuer.

40 years in a profession is cause for celebration and the depth of expertise that time, experience and wisdom brings is apparent in all that Chris does.

He is one of the people I most respect in our profession.

I first met Chris Gale in Horsham, some 39 years ago when we were both starting out and working at Horsham Auction Galleries in the Carfax.

Chris says “Even in those days you wanted your own saleroom, or to be a Vicar.”

The friendship that was born in those days has endured and we have worked together continuously over all these years.

A hugely respected valuer and auctioneer. He maintains an unwavering care for the interest of our clients and the highest professional standards.

Throughout his career Chris has focused his exceptional eye on all the major collecting disciplines. He says “We forget that nothing was ever made in isolation. A Georgian cabinet was made to have a Georgian painting and a pair of candlesticks to accompany it.” But alongside his extraordinary breadth of knowledge Chris is one of the most highly respected toy specialists in the country. Over the years several millions of pounds worth of toys have been sold under his gavel.

An array of toys at Toovey’s

Chris comments “Dinky, Corgi, Matchbox, model trains, dolls, teddy bears, and tinplate toys are still celebrated by collectors and those recapturing their childhoods. Often objects speak of happy times in our lives. When I grew up, the youngest of six, the few toys we had were precious. As a boy my Dad took me to the Tank Museum at Bovington in Dorset and bought me a Dinky Toys, 155mm tank which I’ve never forgotten. Dads Hornby, Dublo OO gauge model railway was to be admired but not touched in those days. These days, it’s too busy in the toy department to play with them – but they’re still to be admired!”

I ask Chris what he loves most about his job. He replies “The thing I love most about my job is the team at Tooveys – it’s like a family, it is family. There is something special in helping people as they acquire or sell their collections. The trust they place in you and how appreciative they are once the things have been sold. I still look forward to every day and the future. Even after 40 years, you never stop learning in this business.”

As I thank Chris his face breaks into a smile and he sets out to take the auction.