Antique silver, popular among collectors, need not be confined to display cabinets but can be an impressive everyday item. Harry Williams-Bulkeley, silver specialist for global auction house Christie’s, offers advice:
1. Silver can be an everyday item: Collect silver for daily use, such as silver tumblers for drinking wine or table service cutlery in the Old English pattern. These can be a starting point for a collection for display and use.
2. Let silver set the scene: Create stylish tables, decorated with carefully chosen works matched with modern objects, or emulate the styles of the 18th and 19th centuries with ornate centrepieces, tureens and candlesticks. Often the tables were laden with fruit and flowers.
3. Start with cutlery: If furnishing a dining table, start with knives, forks and spoons. Condition is important. Heavily-worn 18th-century silver might be too fragile, so 19th- and early 20th-century items are more practical.
4. Make a statement with candlesticks and candelabras: No dinner table is complete without candlesticks and these can be acquired relatively cheaply on auction. If larger candlesticks, or a more architectural model appeal, neoclassical examples of column form are a good choice. Candelabra that can be used with or without their branches offer versatility.
5. Embrace accessories: Augment candlesticks with a centrepiece, such as a basket or tureen, for a basic framework for a table setting. Then add salt cellars, mustard pots and pepperettes.
* Silver is always a strong component at the auctions of Cannon & Cannon in Hilton. The company’s next fine arts, antiques, jewellery and decorative auction is on October 1. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0333433364 or see www.cannons.co.za