Silver Snobs

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I wasLexington Sterling service photographing a Remembrance silver plate gumbo spoon by Rogers, and I remembered a conversation I walked past among some sellers at last year’s Raleigh (NC) Antiques Fair.

“I can’t stand silver plate,” he said, at his nodding compatriot. “If I have to take some in from an estate, that (expletive deleted) goes right in the trash.”

And he then went on to make equally disparaging remarks about International Prelude sterling silver, of dropping it right in the melt box because it was (I don’t remember his exact snooty word here) “so common.” We’ve already talked about how silver plate is sometimes called Grandma’s Sterling, and how that’s ok. Some folks have a strong emotional attachment to the flatware (silverware) that grandma or mother dutifully pulled out of the flannel every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, for Purim and Passover.  I suppose those folks should simply avoid the Silver Snob stores because – as I have been told in such a store before -

“Oh. We have nothing here for you.”

While on a picking adventure this past weekend, I found a small dealer in a rented booth space in an Antique Mall who had a good idea, of breaking up a big set of Grandma’s Sterling and selling it in place setting bundles. Folks might not need the entire set, but maybe an extra place or two, to finish out theirs so they don’t end up with one or two guests eating off the everyday stainless at the kid’s table. We rarely sell place settings like that because we find that folks are short a couple of dessert forks, or need extra place knives, or they collect teaspoons and don’t need the extra pieces. We try to accommodate where possible (and we can always negotiate a deal if you do need place settings and we have them in stock.)

As far as the Prelude being “too common” to sell: if they are speaking in terms of a commodity, I know of other patterns that are easier to find in the market, with more pieces available to purchase. My interpretation of what was said – based on the belittling tone of voice – was that it was “common” and not “elegant.” My southern great-grandmother would say “piss-elegant.” My aunt’s fanny. If an item is a difficult or slow sale, I understand any dealer’s option not to acquire it for their store. Sometimes they can get stuck acquiring an item because in order to get A, they also have to take B. Or when doing a contract to liquidate an estate, it requires all of the estate, ugly stuff, throw away stuff, broken stuff, caked in kitchen grease stuff and all. But it’s still good form (and much more professional) to dispose of the unwanted items discreetly: sell them to another dealer at wholesale, have another means of selling the goods outside of the Silver Snob Store, or even donate the items to a charity that can make good use of them either as literally using them, or selling them at a fundraiser. It simply makes them seem like “not somebody I’d ever want to do business with” to describe merchandise so badly in public. Suppose I was walking by and heard that, and it just happened that Prelude was my grandmother’s silver pattern? How offended would I be?

For what it’s worth, we sold an entire service for 8 in International Prelude a few year’s back. We found a nice rosewood case on the shelves, gave everything a light estate cleaning (no heavy polishing – just get the yellow off) and made an auction buyer very happy with the acquisition. My only thought about the silver pattern was that it looks very nice on the table, and being an antique set, it has that heritage of use around someone’s table that I find so interesting.

It makes me wonder how many happy meals were shared, how many jokes were told, and how many arguments with that one old John Birch uncle who always starts a fight at the Thanksgiving table. The silver snobs would never appreciate the wonder of that thought.

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Reed and Barton flat-handle 4.5″ baby spoon sterling silver

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the final piece from a small estate collection of sterling silver baby spoons and forks, from infant up to toddler size.  This is a 4.5″ baby spoon in sterling silver from Reed and Barton, showing the monogram EMS III on the cartouche on the spoon’s handle. We date to the 1930s based on other cutlery in the collection.

Overall very good shape for a daily use object, we only did a very light estate cleaning on the spoon – it showed no extreme tarnishing, and no dents, bite marks, or damage. We see the expected amount of scratching from daily use. The very minimal amount of tarnish leads us to believe it (along with the other pieces in the collection.

.705 troy ounces of silver

We are offering this spoon first at auction, with an opening bid of $12.95 which is approximately the melt price for the silver today. If the spoon receives no bids in the next seven days, it will be offered for sale at a significantly higher price.

This is a no reserve auction, so the spoon will sell for the highest bid.

Click here to read more about the Reed and Barton flat handle sterling baby spoon.




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Advancing Student 15.5″ viola – Romanian made – fundraiser sale

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William Lews and Son 1535 Viola We recently acquired this William Lewis & Sons 15.5″ viola that was a spare instrument that had been used by an advancing student violist. As he moved up to his next level instrument, he kept this one instead of selling it/trading it in, so it spent more time in recent years in the case than on the stage. He took this viola to state championships in North Carolina, and for a student instrument is in exceptionally good cosmetic condition.

We are selling this instrument as a donation to a project to build a handicapped-accessible viola in a larger size (16.5″.) The concept is to customize a stock instrument to make it comfortable for an artist who has arthritic or other problems with the hands. We offered this viola as the stock body, but unfortunately it’s too small. So, we are selling the viola and donating all the proceeds (minus ebay and paypal fees) to the project.

This is a Ton-Klar (Romania) 15.5″ viola, the Orchestra model, made for William Lewis and Son (Chicago) in the early 1990s, so the wood is very well seasoned. The instrument is very well played in from its years in competition.

If you read the details on the Orchestra Viola, you will see the very good cosmetic condition of the instrument as well as the setup and fittings. This is definitely steps up from your basic $99 eBay instrument.

The viola is stung with a set of Red Label strings that are old enough that they must be changed out in order to get the perfect voice and tune. Rather than guess at which strings the buyer prefers, we left the originals on, so that you can work with your luthier to get just the voice you want from this extremely comfortable viola.

Please note that the viola ships with a padded Antonio case, and no bow: the original bow that came with the instrument was cost prohibitive to re-hair.

Please read the details closely – especially the fundraising part – and see if this step-up viola is worth consideration. This is our second donation instrument, and we continue to find worthy, playable instruments like this in our travels that we can re-home, and at the same time, help students and players who otherwise would not be able to have a good instrument of their own.

Offered at $475, Click here for more information on the William Lewis & Son Orchestra Viola.



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Kenneth George Amphora-Shape 4-handle vase – 13″ Tall

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Kenneth George 4 handle vaseWe acquired a nice small collection of Cole Family pottery toward the end of last year, and it’s a nice representative collection of many of the names in the family. They range from the functional such as mugs and tumblers, to the unusual like a child’s tea set and small clay animals, to this spectacular 13″ tall 4-handled vessel by Kenneth George – the grandson of Neolia Cole and great-grandson of A.R. Cole (Sanford, NC)

This is the largest piece of NC pottery remaining on the shelves from our 2013 acquisitions, and one of the most important. An absolutely beautiful organic shape with the applied handles, enhanced by the traditional Greek amphora shape. Signed and dated by Kenneth George, We rate this one a 9.5 of 10, and consider it to be museum quality work.Kenneth George 4 handle vase

Offered at $197.50, this vase/water vessel is not to be missed. An excellent center piece for your collection of modern North Carolina pottery, but one of the newest and most talented names in the business.

Click here for more information and to purchase the 13″ Kenneth George 4-handle vase.

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Student Violin consignment

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Full Size Student Violin - no labelThis student violin was consigned to us by one of our friends to be sold and the proceeds re-circulated into an ongoing musical donation project.

Our friend – a retired luthier – looks for pre-loved (pre-practiced?) violins that can be restored and put back into circulation for student use. This is an instrument that he had no call for at the time so he sent to us to sell for him so he can buy additional string instruments for students in his area.

What we are offering is a basic beginner-level (Level 1) student violin that is full sized (4/4) with a bow. Overall, the kit is very much better than your average eBay violin and we are offering ours at an opening bid of 1/10 the cost. The violin will arrive to you completely set up, with your choice of two bows. (Read the listing for all the details on this violin and the bows.)

Note that this violin does not ship with a case. Your choice of one of the two bows offered. We also offer a minimal discount if you prefer to take the instrument without the bow, If you take the violin only, the bow will go off to our luthier here for re-stringing and then donated locally in North Carolina.

Note that this is a one week auction beginning at $19.50, and if the violin doesn’t sell at auction it will be re-listed as a buy it now item, with a significantly higher asking price.

Since this one is a consignment/fund raising item, we ask for no extreme low ball offers  if it goes to buy it now.  There is no reserve on the violin so it will sell for whatever is the highest bid.

For more information, click on this link for the Student 4/4 full size violin.

- SOLD -



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Vintage Photographs from 1970s San Francisco

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We are representing a few different estates of all sorts of photography and assorted ephemera (paper goods) that are keeping the scanners busy!

These two images are from a gentleman’s estate collection of gay and male related photography , that we found in a small portfolio of medium format (8×10) photographs of people and places in San Francisco, California in the 1970s. These are images of the people who were still in the city in the decade after the Summer of Love.

Man Sunning on Roof

At first glance this photograph looks sun faded, and closer examination of the colors shows that it is a magenta-based tri-tone color. In normal Kodacolor type processes, the blues are the first colors to fade which leaves subjects with olive green-looking hair (and a white sky.) If you look carefully in the image at the man’s shirt hanging on the pole, you will see that it’s a pleasant shade of blue.

Nude man sunning on roof San Francisco CA early 1970s

This is a nude photograph of a man sunning on a roof, showing the cityscape of San Francisco from what looks like the Mission District.

Please check our condition notes for information on the current condition of this photograph. It is unmounted and is marked on verso with the stamp of Roz Joseph, a photographer in San Francisco.

Offered at $14.50


Two Men in a Cabin

This is one of those photographs that gets more interesting the longer you spend studying it. This one is a depth of field study with the camera looking through a doorway to two men sitting inside, in conversation. The most interesting part of the photograph is looking around the objects surrounding the men… the carpet… the tapestry…. the art… the HiFi.

Note that our online scan does not do this photo justice as we went a little dark in our scan. The photograph shows wonderful detail of the tableau. the image would make for one of those great treasure hunt pictures: find the can of English Leather deodorant!

Unmounted, the print was line dried instead of going through a dryer so the paper is rumpled (as expected.) This would flatten out perfectly when mounted, if desired. This is a very good quality print paper as we see no noticeable toning.

Offered at $9.50



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Herend Indian Basket crescent salad plate – not what grandma told you it was

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We finally get to add a nice crescent salad plate to the store which gives the opportunity to explain what this plate is used for.

Many Southern hostesses describe this plate as a “bones plate,” presumably to be used next to the dinner plate to deposit the bones while one is eating the meat course.

That’s pretty gross!

Who wants to sit at a (formal) dinner with their gnawed up chicken or beef bones on display for all to see?

This plateHerend Indian Basket Green crescent salad plate is most commonly seen in European dinner services (it’s rarely seen in contemporary American fine china patterns.) It is set on the table at the upper-right side of the dinner plate (near the glasses) and should snug up next to the rim of the plate (thus the crescent shape.) It’s the same diameter as the salad plate, only it’s missing the bottom part where it’s “cut out” to fit snugly against the dinner plate.

As the name implies, it is used to serve a side salad that serves alongside the dinner plate, and can be used as an entre les cours – any type of mid-course food that does not need its own plate. An example is that it could be used as a cheese plate for the cheese course if that accompanies dessert.

Have we lost you yet?

The mechanics of the formal dinner service are complicated and the accouterments used will expand as far as your budget will allow. There are dozens of different glasses, plates, bowls, and silver used at table so that a real Victorian service requires a staff (or a few very good friends) to get everything washed up after dinner!  In our next entry, we will describe the basics of the dinner service, and what are the very basics to add to one’s bridal registry. Plus: which duplicates to keep and which to exchange.

This Crescent Salad Plate is in the Indian Basket – Green pattern by Herend China (Czech Republic.) The green dinnerware patterns are the most common and most popular in the Herend lines and this one is no exception. Indian Basket is available in five different colors and this one would match on the table with Indian Basket – Multicolor.

Because of the slight difference in the pattern, and because this is a secondary dinner piece, it will also complement both Chinese Basket – Green, and Chinese Garland – Green, which has a green garland pattern around the rim but no design in the center of the plate.




Herend China Indian Basket back mark on crescent salad plate

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