Friday, June 20, 2014

English Colonial Antique Silver - Introduction

Silver from the Colonies...

The British Empire sprung from overseas possessions and trading posts set-up by England from the end of the 16th century.  Although it was in the early 20th century that it was at its peak, it began being referred to as the British Empire in the nineteenth century.  

A map showing the British Empire in 1886

Although the bulk of sterling silver items were made in the United Kingdom and exported to the colonies, wherever there were significant populations, gold and silversmiths were there working.  Items produced by these local silversmiths are known as 'British Colonial Silver'.  

The most common (and most researched) places that British colonial silver will turn up from are India, Canada, South Africa and Australia.  Each of these have some great reference books available (let me know if you are interested in any of these, as I often have copies for sale).  

An impressive piece made by Wendt, Australia
(Image: Lawsons Auctioneers)
Other places where silver was made include New Zealand, the West Indies (Bermuda and Jamaica) and Gibraltar.  Each of these has only one main reference, and little further research has been done.  

George II Jamaican silver coffee pot c.1755, sold for £10,000 at Matthew Barton.
A rare piece of Jamaican silver, this coffee pot sold for £10,000 this month
(Image: Matthew Barton Auctions)

There must surely be other pieces out there and research to be done, the West Indies for example had wealthy populations on a number of the islands.  If only time and money were not an object! 

If you have an interest in any of these places, let me know, it would be great to connect. 

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