Since the 15th century there have been rigorous laws regarding the selling of silver. Ensuring that trades standards were upheld, Edward I put a law, or statute, in place requiring the testing of all silver items to ensure they met the proper standards. These standards are still enforced today through the current Hallmarking Act of 1973.
Silversmiths located in more remote localities, travelling to Assay centres, which for Scotland was only Edinburgh and Glasgow (between 1819-1964), could often be costly and time-consuming. For that reason, trading centres around the country began to assay and devise their own marks in order to identify their standards.
Within our December 2020 Jewellery, Watches and Silver sale we had a collection of silver known as provincial silver. The flatware and hollowware included in our sale was created by renowned silversmiths who used their maker’s punch along with a town mark to offer clients reassurance of their reliability. Towns such as Banff and Tain on the North East coast of Scotland were incredibly important trading routes between Scotland and the Baltic. Silver was a commodity as well as an artisanal product.
The nuances of Scottish silver means the pattern can provide unique factors for collectors and Scots Fiddle pattern is very synonymous with Provincial flatware, with lot 529 exhibiting this. An interesting collectors market, there are numerous items on sale from one private collection.
It must be said that hollowware is far rarer than flatware, and it gives us great pleasure to offer lot 516, a wax jack by David Duncan of Cupar. A very important social history item, it was used to hold a taper of sealing wax to create sealings on documents.
Provincial silver really is a fascinating and tactile market revealing craftsmanship from areas which could potentially be overlooked. We were delighted to offer a collection of provincial silver in our December 2020 auction of Jewellery, Watches & Silver.
Lyon & Turnbull is the undisputed market leader when it comes to dedicated Scottish silver auctions, with an annual dedicated sale in August held in our Scottish auction house in Edinburgh and via live online auction. Our specialists’ in-depth knowledge of Scottish provincial silver and the current market have proved to be an essential combination to the successful sale of provincial silver from not only the silversmiths of Edinburgh and Glasgow but also Elgin, Ballater, Aberdeen and Perth.