IN Amsterdam, if you pay close attention to the silver sales, you occasionally find a British-made object tucked away beneath the massing foliage of prized Dutch cutlery and tableware. It normally sits quietly, not causing much of a stir.
Yet one item that certainly raised a few eyebrows in the
Sotheby's Amsterdam (22% buyer's premium) Fine Silver auction on
May 17 did indeed come from these shores. It was a Queen Anne
silver plate by Thomas Ker, made in Edinburgh in 1709, which sold
to a private German collector for €16,000 (£10,665), six times the
The plate was produced for Charles Hope, who had been created the
first Earl of Hopetoun six years before it was made. His coat of
arms was engraved on the front with the Latin motto At Spes
Infracta (Yet my hope is unbroken).
The family history may go some way to explain how this plate ended
up in the Netherlands.
Charles Hope was elevated to the peerage by Queen Anne when he
came of age in 1703. This was in recognition of the selfless deed
of his father, John Hope, who had laid down his life for the Duke
of York (the future James II) in the Royal Gloucester shipwreck of
1682 by giving up his seat in the lifeboat to the heir to the
throne. The first Earl was largely credited with the building of
Hopetoun House, based on designs by Sir William Bruce, where the
plate was most likely kept. Yet a later family member, John Hope
(1737-1784), was a well-known Dutch banker who became a member of
the Council of Amsterdam and ruler of the Dutch East-Indian
Despite this brief British interlude, it was nevertheless a piece
of Dutch silver that realised the highest price at the sale. This
was €38,000 (£25,335) for a fine pair of Hendrik Swierink tea
caddies, Amsterdam 1750, 10.5oz, which sold to the Dutch
A pair of 26.5oz 1764 Dutch silver candlesticks by Gregorius Van
Der Toorn also did well, selling to a Belgian private buyer for
Although 18th century Dutch items provided the main thrust of the
auction, another item that also created a few waves was a fine
example of French Art Deco by Parisian silversmith Jean Puiforcat.
His silver tableware, with its costly simplicity that won him
admirers at the 1925 Paris exhibition, is currently very much in
vogue. A figure of €18,000 (£12,000) was achieved for the 75oz,
c.1930, rectangular form tureen with cut corners and ivory
It was a silver jewellery casket which had been displayed at the
1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace that made the highest price
at Christie's Amsterdam (23.205/11.9% buyer's premium) sale of
Dutch and Foreign Silver, Judaica, Russian Works of Art and Objects
of Vertu on April 27. The Renaissance Revival 74.5oz casket was
made by the Utrecht-based silversmith Johannes Mattheus Van Kempen
and designed by Gerardus Willem Van Dokkum. It was secured by a top
estimate bid of €80,000 (£53,335).
The sale also saw a rare and early silver-mounted wooden mazer
realise €34,000 (£22,665). It was made in the Netherlands, c.1547,
and has an unidentified townmark and maker's mark. A fine set of
six Dutch silver candlesticks, 119oz, four dated 1801 and two dated
1805, with the mark of Amsterdam's Anton Hinrich Pape, made €65,000
(£43,000), more than four times the top estimate.
A pair of late 19th century Indian parcel-gilt thrones also went
well above their €20,000-30,000 estimate. Featuring the traditional
seated lions and tigers found on maharajah thrones and here worked
into European-style seating, they were taken to €44,000
The sale totals show that Amsterdam is still a reasonably healthy
location for auctioneers. Christie's sold 85.5 per cent of the 268
lots offered, totalling €689,670 (£459,780). Sotheby's 185-lot sale
had a 74 per cent take-up for their 185 lots, making a
premium-inclusive total of €689,300 (£459,335).
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