Silver Hallmarks by Jeremy Astfalck

A brief history of the hallmarking system and how it works. Hallmarks Generally speaking a hallmark is a letter, number, picture or combination of these, that allows one to be able to distinguish that what you are looking at is silver that conforms to the purity standards set in that country. Every country has a different system of hallmarking but the most developed is the English system which has been around since 1300 AD. To […]

Castle Tops by Madden Cole

COLLECTABLES CASTLE-TOP WARES were the souvenirs of the day when railways were introduced in the UK, encouraging people to take excursions to beauty spots where engraved or repousse-topped silver boxes were on sale. Castle-top boxes were so named because famous castles, stately homes, cathedrals or monuments were depicted on their lids. Castle tops were attached to card cases, snuff and tobacco boxes, vinaigrettes, desk blotters and, later, cigarette cases. Jeremy Astfalck of the Old Corkscrew […]

Caddy Spoons by Madden Cole

THERE are two main reasons why the traditional design of caddy spoons is based on a scallop shell. One is romantic; the other more logical. According to the Collectors Cafe website, the more romantic reason is that shells often were found in tea chests exported from China, and this inspired the design. The more logical reason is that a scallop shell was placed in each chest to allow potential buyers to “sample the tea by […]

Baby rattles by Madden Cole

BABY rattles were mentioned in inventories as far back as Elizabethan times, and developed into a fine art over the years, especially in Birmingham, once known as the toy capital of the world. Possibly one of the earliest records of the baby rattle was made by one William Horman, who in 1519 wrote: “I wyll bye a rattell to styll my baby from cryenge.” (Stephen Helliwell, Collecting Small Silverware). According to Helliwell, most early rattles […]

Antiques from Africa #43

London in June is the place to be as the summer art and antiques fair season offers up the best available from across the world. Celebrating its 43rd year the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair, billed as London’s original art and antiques fair offers a wide choice of high quality, vetted art, antiques, furniture and collectors’ pieces. Bringing Africa on a plate to London will hopefully help my shop, The Old Corkscrew based in […]

Antiques from Africa #42

Divine intervention, coincidence or deliberately planned maybe, but for me this 42 is more likely the “Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”.    A little over a year ago I started this column and it has slowly taken on a life of its own. The rationale behind it was to give some background information on what is often perceived to be a staid and conservative industry. Nothing could be further […]