The fascination for me about collecting antique silver is all about being able to trace when and who by the piece was made. It is therefore gratifying if the hallmarks are in good condition and have not been rubbed, sometimes in their entirety, by an over enthusiastic housekeeper!
Some antique silver collectors will specialise in just a particular maker's name, some of which are much more collectable than others. However, the mark struck on a piece of antique silver might not necessarily be the mark of the silversmith who actually made the piece.
Most products have been produced through a workshop employing several different craftsmen. They would have specialised skills in hand raising, casting, assembly and polishing. The master who runs and owns the silversmith workshop will put his mark on that piece of antique silver.
Two of the silversmiths revered most are Paul de Lamerie and Paul Storr. Click here to see Paul Storr's mark on a classic William 1V antique silver teapot available through Warners Antique Silver. It is thought that the majority of Storr and Lamerie's work is produced by the workshop rather than the silversmith himself.
On occasion one silversmith would pass a piece of antique silver through the assay office for another who might have not had a registered mark. Paul de Lamerie was on occasion rebuked by the Goldsmith's Company for involvement in this practice.
Similarly, a retailer would sometimes overstrike the mark of a specialist silversmith. The Batemans are a famous family of silversmiths whose work is very collectable especially if by Hester or William. Some of their pieces have been overstruck by the retailer George Grey.
Antique silver wine ewers were first produced in the late 17th century. They are often a vase shaped design with ornate decoration depicting grape vines as in the example displayed here.
History denotes that antique silver ewers were initially used for washing fingers with rose water at the dining table. From that early use they became water jugs in Georgian times and then gradually they have taken on more elaborate designs and were most often used for pouring wine.
Details on the Victorian wine ewer displayed can be found by clicking here. This is a particularly fine example of an antique silver wine ewer. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find fine examples of antique silver having no crests or monograms - as is the case with this beautiful antique silver wine ewer.
Georgian and Victorian silver wine ewers are much sought after by antique silver collectors. Earlier examples are very hard to find and command high prices.
Antique silver wine coasters were developed in the 17th century, becoming more popular during the 18th century and are used to prevent wine seeping down the outside of the bottle onto the immaculately polished dining table.
Wine coasters were always produced in pairs - antique silver collectors should check that the hallmarks are the same on each antique wine coaster. As the marks are usually close to the base on the outside of the coaster it is becoming harder to find coasters with unrubbed hallmarks after centuries of cleaning!
The earliest antique wine coasters were quite small in diameter as they were only used for bottles, but as they started being used for glass decanters, so the coasters increased in size to six inches or more in diameter.
Baize was added under the base of the coaster so as the bottle or decanter could be pushed effortlessly around the table.
They are still being produced in the 20th century, some very similar to the earlier examples.
Wine coasters can be completely made of silver or silver plate, but the two silver coasters displayed on the Warners Antique Silver website have turned wood bases, with silver inset circular bosses. It is unusual to find this silver boss without an inscription, hence the desirability of this pair of George 1V silver wine coasters displayed here
Georgian antique silver wine coasters and Victorian silver wine coasters are popular with collectors because they bring beauty and elegance to any dining table or sideboard.