Monday, January 30, 2017

What's the rarest? Silver from Scottish Provincial towns.

Antique Scottish Provincial silver is one of the most interesting and confusing areas of silver collecting. There were numerous towns that were producing silver in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There were no regulations governing these towns, so each town (or silversmith) came up with their own marks. These were often related to town symbols or coat of arms.

It is often the question of rarity that wildly affects the value for these pieces of silver. Below is a table of suggested rarity:

Scarce
Rare
Very Rare
Aberdeen
Arbroath
Cupar
Dumfries
Ballater
Ellon
Dundee
Banff
Fochabers
Glasgow (pre-Assay office)
Canongate
Forres
Inverness
Elgin
Keith
Perth
Greenock
Nairn
Iona
Peterhead
Montrose
St. Andrews
Paisley
Stonehaven
Tain
Wick
This list is published by antiquesilverspoons.co.uk and is based on the research of Richard Turner (who's book, A Directory of Scottish Provincial Silversmiths and Their Marks, is the authority reference on these towns and their makers). 

I have found Aberdeen is by far the most common to turn up (especially the work of William Jamieson!). The towns of Iona and Ballater are both modern producers (late nineteenth/early twentieth century). And the other 'Scarce' towns also turn up somewhat regularly. 

Check out my website for examples of silver from some of the towns listed above. 




Sunday, December 27, 2015

Irish Silversmiths - Benjamin Tait (1784-1791)

Benjamin Tait was based in Dublin. He produced quite a large amount of silversmith in his relatively short career. He worked from around 1784 to 1791. His workshop was near Bride Street, in the inner city of of Dublin.
His most common makers marks have a serrated edge and are clearly recognisable.
Example of Benjamin Tait's maker mark
He made a number of different pieces, but appears to have specialised in flatware. Below are four examples of his bright-cut pattern sugar tongs. His tongs are often much smaller than other Irish examples, the first three displayed measure between 13.5-14.5cm. The fourth pair are of a more common Irish size and measure just under 17cm.


Bright-cut Sugar Tongs with rounded shell bowls by Tait
Bright-cut Sugar Tongs with concave design
Bright-cut Sugar Tongs with flower pattern
Large pair of Sugar Tongs by Tait, in a much more typically Irish size and style