Maltese silver coffee pot

Antonio Manoel de Vilhena (1722-36) period Maltese silver coffee pot, £24,000 at Woolley & Wallis.

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It was hammered down at £24,000 at the Woolley & Wallis Silver sale on January 30-31.

Dating from the second quarter of the 18th century, it carries the maker's mark of FA probably for Francesco Assenza.

Although the island of Malta supported a surprisingly large number of silversmiths in the 17th and 18th centuries (an estimated 600 makers from 1680-1820) relatively little silver from the period survived in situ. The Silver of Malta (1995) by Alaine Apap Bologna records the treasure trove of secular and ecclesiastical gold and silver ransomed or melted down under Napoleon’s brief rule and countless other pieces that left the island before and after as maritime souvenirs. Today, when they occasionally come for sale on foreign soil, most are destined to return to the Maltese archipelago.

Maltese silver coffee pot hallmarks

Hallmarks on the Antonio Manoel de Vilhena (1722-36) period Maltese silver coffee pot.

Italianate coffee pots are perhaps the most recognisable silver domestic forms in Maltese silver but this 29oz example is earlier than most that appear for sale. Maltese silver is typically categorised according to the ruler at the time – in this case the Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena (1722-1736), A coffee pot of this form with the same chased and strapwork decoration pictured in The Silver of Malta. It came for sale from a private collection with a guide of £8000-12,000.

It is the latest in a recent series of strong prices for silver from Malta. A 2ft 3in (68cm) high Oakes period lampier c.1810 offered by Bonhams in October came by descent with an aristocratic provenance from the Barony of Benwarrad. One of the many old Maltese titles recognised and accepted by the British when invited to occupy Malta in the Napoleonic era, the Benwarrad lineage held many important posts in Malta, and still retain key positions today. This doubtless added to its appeal as it sailed above hopes of £2000-4000 to bring £16,000.