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Former Sotheby’s jewellery chief looks to corner online antique silver market

08 June 2009Written by ATG Reporter

A NEW website has been launched which aims to do for antique silver what has done for the antiquarian and secondhand book trade.

The founder of is Martyn Downer, former head of jewellery at Sotheby’s, while the company is chaired by Dermot Chichester, the former chairman of Christie’s.

Mr Downer believes “silver, like books, is a perfect product to promote online”, but contends that no single site currently makes the process easy.

“The success of similar portal sites proves that people like to visit a single website where they can rapidly search through a range of products offered by different providers before making a purchase,” he argued.

“Credibility, authenticity and reputation are critical to the success of trading online. Our exhibitors, many members of leading trade organisations, will represent the highest standards in the industry.”

He is particularly excited by the potential of selling crested silver to customers who share family names.

An innovative feature on the website is the Crestfinder function, with heraldic information for over 47,000 families. Using a digital version of Fairbairn’s Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, this newly constructed database enables visitors to search for silver engraved with their family crest. Mr Downer says the ability of the site to identify crests will not only bring silver to families worldwide but will restore the full value of it to sellers.

Prominent London silver dealers listing stock on the website for its launch include Alastair Dickenson, SJ Phillips, John Bourdon-Smith and Koopman Rare Art.

Auctioneers are also invited to list upcoming items and Christie’s, Cheffins and Dreweatts are all on the site.

The ultimate aim is “to aggregate the world’s stock of antique silver” that can be searched by maker, date, type, engraved crest and initials – although with around 500 items currently listed there is a long way to go.

Exhibitors pay a fixed monthly subscription fee of £43. In addition, there is a variable monthly fee per item of silver listed on the website. Fees range from 50p to £1.50 per item depending on the value and number of items of silver listed during the month.

The website is not party to any transactions and takes no commission on purchases resulting from an introduction.

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ATG Reporter

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