Silver teapot

A baluster form teapot in the Stewart Collection is expected to sell for £3000-5000 at Chiswick Auctions. Made c.1880, the whole surface is chased with a detailed design of plants and animals with a Black Francolin bird forming the spout, a lizard the handle and a scorpion the finial.

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The Stewart Collection was inspired by items inherited from grandparents based in India and Ceylon in the early 1900s and guided by Wynyard Wilkinson’s seminal book Indian Silver 1858- 1947, published in 1999.

The contents (offered across 228 lots) cover all the major silversmithing centres of British India from prolific cities such as Lucknow to the little-known Trichinopoly.

Chiswick Auctions’ specialist John Rogers believes it is the most comprehensive offered in recent memory. “As the only silver department to have a dedicated approach to non-European silver, presenting the Stewart collection is an especially proud moment. I know of no other collection of Indian silver with such a holistic and thorough approach to ornamentation and design.”

Of all the silversmiths working in British India, one name stands out: Oomersi Mawji of Bhuj. Pieces by this accomplished workshop began to appear c.1860 and they continued to be produced by his sons and grandsons well into the 20th century.

“Working the silver with ingenious skill and patience, Oomersi Mawji and his sons raised the quality of decoration on Cutch silver to an art form,” notes Wynyard Wilkinson.