Worth more than the poker chips... a set of silver playing cards brings $554,500

Christie's completed a sale of Important Silver including the Stuart Collection of Magnificent Regency Silver on Tuesday October 19, realising $3,825,375 (£2,421,123 or €2,772,010)

A number of lots attracted some extremely keen bidding resulting in six-figure prices which tested or beat expectations.

Some of the most coveted lots included a pair of important victorian silver double-magnum wine coasters with the Arms of Rothschild, bearing the mark of Robert Garrard II, London, 1845.

These were expected to sell for $70,000-100,000, but a number of people were interested and the lot finally sold to an anonymous bidder for over double its lower estimate: $158,500.

Sticking with a sophisticated wine theme, a pair of George III silver-gilt wine coolers, mark of Paul Storr, London, 1808 sold towards the upper end of its $150,000-250,000 listing for $230,500 to an Asian private bidder.

As the wine markets are going from strength to strength in Asia, perhaps we should expect more related collectibles to be increasingly in demand.

The top lot of the sale however, was as expected the extremely rare set of German engraved and parcel-gilt silver playing cards, signed Michael Frömmer, Augsburg, 1616, realising $554,500 (£350,949 or €401,811), doubling its estimate of $150,000 - $250,000.

Despite their popularity among noble clientele - silver cards were supplied to the courts of Bavaria, Tuscany, and Brunswick among others - only five sets of silver playing cards are known to survive today.

Silver playing cards

Consigned by the descendant of General Manuel Oribe of Uruguay, the lot is the only complete deck of 52 cards in existence that are engraved in the four Italian suits: swords, batons, cups, and coins, each suit with a king, a knight, a knave, and pip cards ace through ten. 

Jennifer Pitman, Head of Sale, Silver Department, said:  "We were delighted to see international participation and high prices for important silver, especially for the top lot of the sale- the rare set of parcel-gilt silver playing cards of 1616. 

"We continue to see strong results in the modern silver sector and increased interest among Asian clients in the global silver market.  We look forward to our next sale of American Silver on January 20, 2011."


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