Friday, August 26, 2005

Polished silver favored for luxurious serving pieces

I came across an interesting article today, written by Ralph & Terry Kovel. The article begins with stating that for centuries, smooth, polished silver was the metal favored by customers for luxurious and expensive silver serving pieces.

But all of that changed by the late 1800's during the Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts movement, when silversmiths began searching for a new, creative ways to express themselves using silver.

Unusual and expensive pieces, many with a hand-hammered surfaces, began to appear. Hand-wrought work was suddenly popular!

Gorham Co. (Providence, Rhode Island) was in the forefront of hammered silver hollowware items, although they still produced their older conventional silver pieces. Many of Gorham Silver's bowls and other holloware items began to appear with applied decorative metalwork of silver, bronze or copper. Interiors were gilded with gold, as were handles and the decorations themselves. The Japanese influence became the basis for many of their designs.

Just a few years into this new design movement, Gorham was producing a line of hand-made copper pieces with a reddish-brown finish - the well known copper color! A new hand-made line of holloware items, called Martele, was now all the rage. Martele was made of high-grade silver, with decidedly Art Nouveau designs such as twisting vines, leaves, flowers, and other flowing shapes.

When the Art Deco period came into being in the 1920's, collectors all but forgot about the intricate and beautiful Art Nouveau designed pieces. Finally, in the 1980's, collectors once again became interested in the Art Nouveau and hand-hammered designs and the prices began to rise once again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Patron Saint of Silversmiths

St. Andronicus
Died: 5th century
Feastday: October 9

Hermit who had a remarkable experience with his wife, Athanasia. Andronicus was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and became a silversmith. Marrying Athanasia, he went to Antioch, where they lost their two children, possibly in a local plague. Both Andronicus and Athanasia returned to Egypt, where they became hermits in the desert. Athanasia, who was dressed as a man, lived in a separate hermitage. After twelve years, a monk named Athanasius came to visit Andronicus. The two went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and then joined a monastery near Alexandria. When Athanasius died, a note was found identifying her as Athanasia, Andronicus' wife. Andronicus who died soon after, was buried with Athanasia.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Silver & Silverplate Snuff Boxes

The use of snuff, which is finely grated tobacco, became a pastime with both the rich and the poor years ago. It also created a need for snuffboxes. Snuffboxes soon became ornamental objects which could be carried in a pocket.

The long history of tobacco use has left us a plethora of silver collectibles, from large silver cigar holders to pocket size silver snuffboxes.

Some silver snuff boxes were intended to be carried in a gentleman's pocket. These silver snuff boxes usually had a hinged lid so one hand could be left free to take the snuff. Larger types of silver snuff boxes were made for side tables in the home. All snuff boxes had tight-fighting lids so that the fine powder could not escape.

The collector of the 21st century can find boxes made of silver and gold, but there were also boxes made of brass, pewter and even wood. Some were enameled on top, others had paintings and fewer had real jewels.

Snuff boxes in Sheffield plate were generally rectangular, although other shapes were also introduced. Tortoise shell was commonly used for linings, bases and covers. One way to distinguish between silver and Sheffield plate is the worn edges and corners on plate reveals the glow of copper.

Today's market realizes prices for snuff boxes in the range of $55 to as much as $4,950. Today's collector of antique snuff boxes might want to specialize in silver. Many of the silver boxes go back as far as as the early 1800's and they can be a collector's delight.

Although Abe Silverman's Anitque Silver Shop does not currently carry antique and silver snuff boxes, we will be listing antique silverplate lighters this week in our Silver Holloware section.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

We've just added a wide variety of Silver Tea Serving Sets! Everything from complete antique quadruple silverplate tea sets, to creamer & sugar bowl sets, individual teapots and more. See ALL of our antique silver tea sets here: