Many of us set the table before any meal, whether it’s a Saturday lunch with the family or a larger gathering to celebrate a birthday or holiday. More often than not, the table’s appearance is largely the same, meal after meal after meal.

Adding a splash of silver, however, can alter the look of any table immediately, adding a blend of elegance and simplicity. For some, silver means dinner is served; for others, it represents an element of formality. Silver offers significant allure to collectors of all kinds, both the savvy and the nostalgic.

One area in which silver has been used for generations is in serving, especially beverages – both hot and cold. This week’s Five for Friday examines some of the extraordinary examples available to collectors of all levels in Heritage Auctions’ Silver & Vertu Auction Oct. 17 in Dallas.

1.   An early 20th-century Five-Piece Shreve & Co. Silver Tea and Coffee Service from San Francisco (est. $4,000-6,000) includes a hot water kettle on a stand, a coffee pot, a teapot, a covered sugar dispenser and a creamer. Each is adorned with an armorial griffin engraved with “VIRTUS IN ACTIONE CONSISTIT” … which translates to “power in activity.”

A Five-Piece Shreve & Co. Silver Tea and Coffee ServiceA Five-Piece Shreve & Co. Silver Tea and Coffee Service, San Francisco, California, early 20th century
Marks: SHREVE & CO., SAN FRANCISCO, MAKERS, STERLING, (various)
Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000. 

2.  One of the more ornate serving items available in the auction is an 1849 John Angell II & George Angell Victorial Silver Figural Wine Ewer from London (est. $2,000-3,000). Standing 10-1/2 inches high, the lid on this ewer (a wide-spouted pitcher) is engraved “AWARDED BY The Royal Scottish Society of London TO CHARLES GARNETT ESQR.” The handle features trompe l’oeil grapevine texture, while the body is decorated with carvings of children and grape and foliate decoration. The shoulder is engraved with “FOR THE 2nd Greatest Gross Score at the GRAND ARCHERY COMPETITION IN LORD HOLLAND’S PARK ON THE 20th & 21st JUNE 1849.”

A John Angell II & George Angell Victorian Silver Figural Wine Ewer
A John Angell II & George Angell Victorian Silver Figural Wine Ewer, London, 1849
Marks: (lion passant), (leopard), (duty mark), O, JA&GA
Estimate: $2,000 – $3,000. 

3.  A William Spratling Mexican Silver and Rosewood Pitcher, circa 1940-44 (est. $1,200-1,500) features a beautiful hand-hammered texture throughout the body with errant pin dents, and is remarkable in its simple but striking contrast between the silver body and rosewood handle.

A William Spratling Mexican Silver and Rosewood Pitcher
A William Spratling Mexican Silver and Rosewood Pitcher, Taxco, circa 1940-1944
Marks: WS, SPRATLING, MADE IN MEXICO, SPRATLING SILVER
Estimate: $1,200 – $1,500. 

4.  A 20th-century Peruvian Silver Figural Pitcher (est. $700-1,000) is an eye-catching piece in which the spout is the extension of the mouth of a creature’s face. The spherical body of the pitcher includes simple Peruvian design, and is raised up three round feet.


A Peruvian Silver Figural Pitcher, 20th centuryA Peruvian Silver Figural Pitcher, 20th century
Marks: (crown-shield-R. & Co., 0.900)
Estimate: $700 – $1,000.

5.  An American Glass Decanter with Gorham Silver Overlay: est. $500-700 is a unique item in that on the decanter’s body and stopper, the silver is an artistic element added to the glass body. Part of the artistic appeal is that the glass body allows a view through, so the silver on each side overlap, adding to the elaborate visual appeal.

An American Glass Decanter with Gorham Silver Overlay, circa 1910An American Glass Decanter with Gorham Silver Overlay, circa 1910
Marks: (lion-anchor-G), D1086
Estimate: $500 – $700. 

Written by: Steve Lansdale


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