An important pair of 18th century silver soup tureens bearing the maker's mark of master German metalworker Gottfried Bartermann is to auction at Christie's New York on May 21.
Estimated at between $150,000 and $250,000, the delicate rocaille-style tureens are composed of sinuous foliate forms, as well as solid silver nesting birds.
A pair of Asprey and Co gem-set lions is also to cross the block. The 20th century ornamental silver-gilt lions, estimated to be worth $30,000-50,000, boast diamond set noses and hard stone eyes.
A silver gilt, gothic style altar set bearing the mark of Michael Bolton, a self-taught, London-born metal worker inspired by traditional Roman, Celtic and Anglo Saxon designs, is also to star. It has been valued at $80,000.
The altar set comprises a crucifix, six candle sticks, a chalice, a paten (or plate used to hold the host), and an incense holder, among other items. Set with moonstones and amethysts, the altar set's anachronistic aesthetic belies its true age - a mere 25 years old.
Historic silver items often prove very popular at auction. A large collection of Durham Light Infantry ceremonial silverware brought £61,940 ($94,290) in April 2013. A Victorian punch bowl led the auction, selling with a 135% increase on its £2,000 reserve, bringing £4,700 ($7,154).
Decorative silver items do not merely retain their value in sheer weight, they also derive worth from artistry, age and the scarcity of any equivalent item.
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