ROBIN Butler’s new book on The Albert Collection: Five hundred years of British and European Silver, is a survey of one man’s 30-year dedication to assembling a collection. The owner commissioned Mr Butler to produce a survey of his mammoth and wide-ranging assemblage of over 700 pieces before his death, and, after he died, his widow wanted the task to be completed.
To celebrate the publication of the work, London
dealers Partridge Fine Art are giving a
first airing to a representative selection of 200 pieces from the
collection in an exhibition at their gallery that opens on
The display illustrates what Partridge's Lucy Morton
describes as "a very personal collection" with an emphasis on small
pieces to fit a London home. Purchasing mostly from the trade, its
anonymous founder started out buying conventional pieces of
tableware but progressed to smaller, more unusual collectors'
items. Instead of focusing, as some enthusiasts do, on one area of
smallwork like spoons or vesta cases, he dipped into lots of
different fields, buying representative pieces that took his
As a result, rather than grandiose silver-gilt display
pieces, the Partridge show will feature smaller, often utilitarian
elements that give an insight into the social life, customs and
habits of our forebears, such as the little 18th century pastry
jigger pictured below. The history of informal drinking is
represented by a selection of beakers from cities across Europe
that span the 16th to 19th centuries and there are also all manner
of boxes, from humble nutmeg graters to seal
The collection also features more quirky elements, such as a
collapsible paper lantern in a silver-mounted ebony frame and a
silver artist's palette made for presentation to Sir Thomas
Lawrence, President of the Royal Academy.
Royal memorabilia is not forgotten in the Albert collection
- the display includes a bell that hung from the coronation canopy
of Charles I and three Royal messenger badges.
The exhibition is at Partridge Fine Art, 144-146 New Bond Street
London W1 from September 29 to October 13 and copies of Robin
Butler's book will also be on sale.
Tel 020 7629 0834.