Firstly, the trend for refashioning period antique silver (mostly low-value flatware) into jewellery.
Georgian sugar tongs are bent and hammered into bangles, spoons are twisted into rings and butter knives are folded over to form money clips.
This has been happening for several years, with the pieces offered for sale on eBay. When it first happened some collectors contacted Goldsmiths’ Hall, but the sale of these pieces continued freely online.
Aside from the chance that rare and unusual Georgian sugar tongs and spoons may be ruined by turning them into jewellery, I was also left a little surprised that such ‘changes of purpose’ could occur without addition marks or the original marks being defaced or erased at Goldsmiths’ Hall.
It only adds further confusion when these pieces are then being resold a ‘Georgian bangles and rings’. To a casual buyer with no knowledge of antique silver and jewellery, how can they conclude anything else when the pieces bear clear genuine hallmarks of that period?
I would also urge the APC to look at the thorny problem of fake silver photograph frames formed from the electrotyping process or from sheet sterling via laser cutting.
A common feature of these is a crisp wooden backing (one thing that cannot be replicated is the wear to original felt or silk easel or oak backs showing a century of patination), and atypical colour and translucency to any enamel embellishments. They have not been ‘rebacked and reenamelled’ – neither an impediment to their ‘legal’ sale. They are fakes.
I would also like to take slight exception to the remarks of Dr Organ in ATG’s story that “there is less expertise in silver than there used to be in the trade”. Possibly he has failed to notice that some of the younger generation are now writing the specialist books and articles to which the older generation refer.
Some younger (and by younger I mean anyone under 50!) blood might be a help, not a hindrance.