American Colonial Spoon Offered for £160,000 at UK Antiques Fair

  • BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom
  • /
  • March 13, 2014

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Rare Colonial Silver Spoon on sale for £160,000 at Antiques for Everyone, UK
Michael Baggott

A highly important silver spoon goes on sale for £160,000 at Antiques for Everyone at the NEC, Birmingham, UK, which returns for the spring event from 10th - 13th April 2014. Showcasing the stock of more than 250 specialist dealers, Antiques for Everyone is Britain’s largest prestige art and antiques event of its kind.

The marrow spoon belongs to new exhibitor Michael Baggott Antiques, the Midlands silver specialist. The spoon is American Colonial in origin, from the period of George III and is attributed to the makers Daniel Henchman/Nathaniel Hurd of Boston, and is dated circa 1766-68. It measures 20cm long and is inscribed to the top of the stem: “John Wentworth Esq To Thomas Smith”.

John Wentworth (1737-1820) was Governor of New Hampshire from 1766 until the American War of Independence when he was eventually forced to leave for England sometime in 1778. A prominent figure and amongst the wealthiest of men in New Hampshire he was known to have been at the cutting edge of taste having spent the previous three years before assuming the Governorship in the upper echelons of British Society whilst in London (1763-66) where he was most likely exposed to the some of the finest of English Rococo silver.

Whilst some iconography on silver can be coded, the outstretched hand issuing from a dolphin mask sleeve can leave little doubt that this was a sincere gift of friendship and respect from a New Governor to a much respected elder figure within the state. Thomas Smith, who was originally from Ireland, was amongst the first Grantees of Chester County NH and a Lieutenant with ties to the New Hampshire Militia, a body which was greatly improved by Wentworth when he took office, adding 1600 men to their number and being in regular attendance at the regimental reviews. Smith died in 1768 aged 80.

The taste for Rococo silver in America was at its height from 1750-1775, with simple cast foliate motifs being applied or large Rococo armorials being engraved to the bodies of vessels. As Michael Baggott explains, the only comparable Rococo piece of flatware would be the Riemer Ladle, made by Peter Riemer in New York in 1763 with it’s cast foliate asymmetric stem, though it’s ambition to the style is easily surpassed by the superb modelling to the handle of this marrow spoon. It seems most likely that the design for this spoon would have been drawn or modelled in wax by Nathaniel Hurd and executed by Henchman, being cast in three separate pieces then assembled and finished with chasing.

Michael Baggott Antiques are promising a number of superb pieces. These include a rare Queen Anne period snuff box made by Benjamin Pyne (London, 1711), once given by Richard DuCane, Director of the Bank of England, to his friend, Mr Christopher Burrow, a Captain of the East India Company. The box is beautifully engraved on the cover with a ship, ‘The Christopher’. Also of unusual appeal will be a rare Tibetan gilt metal Oracles mirror, dating from the 18th century, which will be exhibited for the first time at the NEC fair. As Michael explains, Oracle mirrors were used by senior priests for divination, the vacant centre would have had a polished metal dome, which one would peer into (not directly but by the use of a smaller mirror) to see the future! Very rarely do they come onto the market. Tibetan art is very much a favourite with serious collectors with the recent acquisitions made by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Antiques for Everyone
Antiques for Everyone continues with its highly popular two-section formula, providing buyers at every level of collecting with the opportunity to view and buy fine art, period antiques, collector’s items and designer works of art at prices to suit every pocket. Both sections are strictly vetted, but from spring 2014 dateline restrictions are being lifted in Section One. ‘The idea behind this move is to allow a selection of later items of exceptional quality to be shown alongside the wonderful array of antique items, offering more choice to AFE visitors. This will require stricter vetting for quality in Section 1 but we hope it will maximise the appeal of the fairs and attract both new exhibitors and new visitors,’ explains organiser Dan Leyland from Clarion Events. ‘Many younger buyers and others who grew up in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, are interested in collecting pieces from the evocative post-war period and later art and design. Once at the fair their eyes will also be opened to the wealth of antiques on offer.’

Last November Antiques for Everyone featured the ‘Young Guns’ pavilion, showcasing the stock of upand-coming dealers under forty from across the country. They will be returning for the spring fair and Mark Hill, Young Guns co-founder and well known author and TV antiques expert, will be staging a major exhibition of mid-20th century Modernist glass.

Since it began in 1986, Antiques for Everyone has continually sought to broaden its appeal. The rise in interest in the vintage market and popularity of ‘mid-century modern’ has brought many new buyers to the fair.

THE ORGANISERS: Dan Leyland, Clarion Events Ltd, Fulham Green Bedford House, 69-79 Fulham High Street London SW6 3JW. UK +44 (0)20 7384 8149
PUBLIC VISITOR INFORMATION Clarion Events Tel: UK 0207 384 8149. Halls 17-19, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, UK, B40 1NT. Admission: £15.00, including free car parking. In Advance: £12.00 for Adults and Senior Citizens from the Box Office Tel: 0844 581 0827. Public Open Times: Thurs-Sat 11am-6pm / Sun 11am-5pm Email:

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