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  • THE LONDON SILVER VAULTS

    CHANCERY LANE
    LONDON WC2A 1QS

  • OPENING TIMES

    MON-FRI: 9.00AM - 5.30PM
    SAT: 9.00AM - 1.00PM
    NB: Entry to building is restricted 15 minutes prior to closing times.

  • Mid-twentieth century modern silver for 21st century dining

  • March 12, 2014

  • Key members of the post-war  school of silver  design  are well represented in the third part of the Silver Vaults’ exhibition of silver for 21st century dining. Names  like Gerald Benney, Stuart Devlin, Robert Welch from Britain and Georg Jensen from Scandinavia are among the names feted in the Dressed for Dinner show.  Echoing the new streamlined look of the short-lived Art Deco period, the 1950s began several decades of  a quite distinctive modern ’look’. These Mid-twentieth century silversmiths took inspiration from changing aesthetics in sculpture, abstract art, modernist architecture and design.  New geometric forms were balanced by abstract impressionistic textural surfaces.  Lacquering skills were re-developed to bring colour and contrast.  A range of additional materials and decorative techniques were explored and incorporated, often from other cultures, to enhance the silver.So from the 20th century we have designs for  a thoroughly modern dining area including,  enamelled silver cruets and decorative fruit forms, bark – textured goblets, cruets and napkin rings, silver and silver gilt cage work candelabra and chunky cutlery from Scandinavia.  Some pieces are from named design houses, others not.  Mid-twentieth century silver is a rapidly growing collecting area, as is this period in many areas of design. And it sits well with the pared-down look of today’s interiors.

    Dressed for Dinner: Three centuries of fine dining and silver tableware.  24 February to 24 May 2014.  Open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Saturdays 9am to 1pm.

    image (6) crop - modern design Dressed for Dinner London Silver Vaults                            image of modern silver bowls and gilt lined tumblers

  • The Victorian Dinner Table – part of a new exhibition of dining silver.

  • March 4, 2014

  • Dressed for Dinner, the new selling exhibition at the London Silver Vaults, which opened last week, shows the silver that was used for the dinner table by the 18th century Georgians, the 19th century Victorians and by diners in the 20th century.  A typical Victorian dinner table is typically an explosion of highly decorated silver with embossed and engraved patterns, borrowing from nature and myth, and grand statement pieces like epergnes.

    An epergne was a tall impressive centrepiece carrying fruit or sweets – like the one we have in the Victorian part of the show which was made by the famous Elkington & Co silver manufacturers of the day.  For everyday dining ‘à la russe’ – the fashion in the 1850s for having the different courses handed round by the butlers and footmen – there had to be plenty of serving dishes, often with double wall insulation to keep food warm, or entrée dishes that could be stacked. (We have a pair of those).  Plus of course, different ladles for sauces, gravy or cream and serving spoons for their blancmanges, jellies and sorbets.

    In the 1840s a new method of silver plating was industrialised so the aspirational couples of the day could buy a cheaper alternative to sterling silver and look just as swish to their friends. We have a pair of splendid two-arm candelabra in silver plate in the show.

    With ‘à la russe’ dining, the variety of silver cutlery was important. Fish knives and forks made their first appearance and fruit knives and forks arrived on the table together with berry spoons for serving soft fruit and fruit compotes. There is a place setting of cutlery in the show in chased vine pattern from a dessert set for 12 complete with grape scissors and  nutcrackers.  This pattern was launched at the Great Exhibition of 1851. We also have the popular Victorian design, Queen’s pattern cutlery on display.

    Touching food was frowned on in the 19th century so diners were presented with a growing array of specialist eating utensils for particular foods. They had to recognize asparagus tongs, lobster picks, marrow spoons, cheese scoops and grape scissors and know how to use them.  We have them all.

    Dressed for Dinner: Three centuries of fine dining and silver tableware

    24 February to 24 May 2014   9am – 5pm.  Saturdays 9am – 1pm.

    image of Victorian dollshouse surrounded by silver dinnerware of the day.

  • Silver Dinnerware Georgian-style at London Silver Vaults

  • March 3, 2014

  • The new selling exhibition at the London Silver Vaults which opened last week showcases the finest silver dinnerware from three centuries. The C18th, C19th and C20th.  Called Dressed for Dinner it presents the very best silver accessories for dining at home – in the kitchen, in the dining room or in your super-room.
    The Georgians dined ‘a la Francaise’ which meant all the courses were brought to the table at once and the diners helped themselves. For this you needed lots of serving dishes, sauceboats, cutlery, cruet and wine and water jugs.
    The oldest pieces of Georgian silver we have on display are a pair of sauce boats by William Cripps hallmarked 1754. From Hester Bateman, the famous C18th London silversmith, we have a wine funnel (wine was decanted from barrels) and a neo classical basket for sweets.  On a larger scale there is a very splendid soup tureen from Edinburgh dated 1816. And from Dublin a soup ladle that would pair with it nicely dated 1781. From London silversmiths there is an elegant pair of gilt-lined boat shaped salts by Robert Hennell, made in 1784 and a matching pair of embossed silver goblets from 1768.
    In some Georgian households there wasn’t a dedicated dining room and once guests had entered through the hallway and passed into a drawing room, tables would be assembled in the hall and ‘dressed’ for dinner.  The Georgians also liked to decorate their tables with elaborate centrepieces such as miniature gardens. For our Georgian display we have a period dolls house as our centrepiece.

    Dressed for Dinner: Three centuries of fine dining and silver tableware
    Selling Exhibition – 24 February to 24 May 2014.  Open 9am – 5pm.

    image (15) crop - Georgian cabinet Dressed for Dinner London Silver Vaults

     

     

THE LONDON SILVER VAULTS

CHANCERY LANE
LONDON
WC2A 1QS

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OPENING TIMES

MON-FRI: 09:00 - 17:30
SAT: 09:00 - 13:00
SUN: closed