S otheby’s Dining IN sales this summer offer buyers the chance to create uniquely fabulous tablescapes at home. From Regency splendour to Victorian whimsy, our team of specialists has brought together a selection of silver, porcelain, glass, furniture and table linen to cater for all tastes.
Highlights include a magnificent George III silver soup tureen and an eye-catching Martin Brothers stoneware spoon warmer.
The Victorian taste for novelties in silver, zoomorphic or otherwise, seems to have been unbounded. Of course, such oddities had long been popular, like the London silversmith, John Schuppe's many cow cream jugs of the mid 1750s-late 1770s. A silver monkey and barrel pattern mustard pot was shown by Odiot at the Paris Exposition of 1819, an idea which was copied soon afterwards by workshops attached to the royal goldsmiths, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.
It wasn't long before increasing numbers of silver designers turned to the natural or even mythical worlds for their inspiration, such as the leaf-form inkstand with apple, pear and pomegranate pots (an idea borrowed from 18th century Dutch originals), Robert Hennell & Sons, London, 1857; cream jug by the same firm, modelled as an elephant, London, 1879; and one of Alexander Crichton's surprising silver-mounted glass claret jugs, such as the example from 1882 in the form of a harpy.
The various bear-, cat- and boot-form pepperettes in this sale as well as owl menu holders and the like emphasise that this fondness for silver table toys and novelties is both a field of continuing interest to collectors as well as to those who find pleasure in the sometimes whimsical realms of silversmiths' imaginations.