THE highest bullion prices for a generation are helping the cause of much general silver at auction, but the real strength of the market is for the better-quality smallwork where weight counts for nought.
Evidence of this came when a group of silver vinaigrettes amassed by a discerning collector on the South Coast generated exceptional individual prices at Lawrences of Crewkerne on April 12.
Weighing under an ounce each, a dozen 'castletops' decorated in high relief by the early Victorian silversmith Nathaniel Mills, commanded the greatest attention. For these high-class travel souvenirs, the scarcity of the subject matter determines the price. Pictured above is a box with a view of Bath Abbey (Birmingham 1846) which sold at £6000 (estimate £1200-1500).
Equally sought after were two boxes hallmarked for 1843, one with a view of Worcester Cathedral (£5600) and the other with the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford (£6600).
The collection also included a rare novelty silver vinaigrette in the form of a human skull with engraved cranium detail, articulated jaw and a gold suspension ring. Marked for Henry William Dee, London 1871, and inscribed for the retailer W. Barker, 164 New Bond St, it took a mighty £7800 (estimate £3000-4000).