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Posts in Silver

Craft-Honed: The Very Nearly, Lost Art of Hand-Engraving

by on March 13th, 2015

DSC_2964_1Engraving for presidents, movie stars and Greenwich school teachers, Carlos Colonna has been the hands engraving many of the most important crest rings, trophies and sterling pieces. On the average day, he’s sharpening his tools and craft with Betteridge.

Hand-engraving remains among the most difficult and important aspects of the jeweler’s craft: at Betteridge, we’re blessed to have Carlos still working at the bench and continuing to produce enduring works of this nearly, lost art. Each of the examples here, he cut entirely with the handtools he shapes himself, then wields with the skills and confidence gained over his sixty year career.

As a collector and dealer in old silver, I’ve found countless times the embellishment of a great heraldic device or inscription adds terrific value, perhaps more than ever before, now hundreds of years later. These engraved pieces become time machines; portals to another generation, epoch and even culture. Understanding the form and use, then the importance of the provenance told by the engraved images let’s you into another world where these badges of station and achievement were instantly recognized and respected.

crest-rings

carlos-hands

Darby, Joan & an English Tankard

by on July 28th, 2014

Here we have a tale to be re-told by a Sherlock… At first glance, the tankard is English. It is Charles II in form and mark, but the chasing, a wonderful illustration in sterling silver, is extraordinary for it’s depth and detail; poetry fully written.

In 1735, a poet of little fame except for this one ode, wrote the story of his kindly hosts to whom he was apprenticed in his youth: Darby and Joan. Wrinkled and stooped, but smiling and satisfied with comfort of a lifetimes memories together, the old couple sits smoking and drinking outside their favorite pub, their dog tight by their sides. “What are the charms can you guess, that makes them so fond?” asks the writer who then answers, “Tis the remembrance of youth… The thoughts of past pleasure…”

Noel Coward, in the middle of the last century knew the poem still and parodies the loving oldsters in his musical Sail Away with the song of Bronxville Darby and Joan, keeping the story still alive and more local.
silver-tankard

An Old Stuffing Spoon

by on May 20th, 2014

terry-spoon
Really good silver takes many forms but it always shares a few important traits, as this old stuffing spoon shows.

All the surfaces here, rustic from the heavy hammer blows, are smooth to the hand. The haft of the spoon is heavily beaten back from both sides, to thicken and give the strength of an “I Beam”: It wont bend, or at least will snap back, when used hard.

It is almost 8 troy ounces of three individually made and reinforced sections: It has the weight to last through hundreds of years of service.

Finally, it is signed by the workmen who were pleased with their work and proud of their shop. Great silversmiths make things to be used and are willing to stake their names that it will last doing so.

One of my first projects in the shop, for a dear friend

One of my first projects in the shop, for a dear friend

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The Claret Jug

by on September 30th, 2011

Silver Walrus Decanter

A Whimsically Wonderful Silver Walrus Decanter

My desk is a mess. Today, a walrus, ivory tusks and all, stares at me from where paper and counter should be, but I’m tickled; he reminds me of my departed springer and a silly question from one of my kids.

“Pop, you’re not going to melt this pitcher are you?” A fabulous, grape vine wrapped ewer, made in the 19th century, was his concern; heavy as lead; but it showed how little, so many kids today know of the great objects of art whose use makes them all the greater a wonder.

In Paris, is a somewhat fusty, bastion of the French culinary art called, La Serre; and on a high line of shelves, is a vast collection of wine jugs. Some are characters, like the walrus, but most are simply elegant deliveries of one of the greatest French treasures: the Bordeaux. After a suitable fondling of the sensuous, high shoulder of an unmistakable region’s bottle, ritual decantation aereates the heavy wine into the “Claret Jug.” The very best wines, pour into and out of these elegant vessels.

No, we do not melt wine ewers.

Victorian Silver Ewer

Victorian Silver Wine Ewer, Circa 1861

The One & Only Estate Silver Sale, November 16-20

by on November 5th, 2010

Antique Sterling Silver Tea Kettle with Floral and Ram Head Motifs

Antique Sterling Silver Tea Kettle with Floral and Ram Head Motifs, $1,800

As Terry Betteridge put it, “Imagine the fun of rummaging through our silver vault… buying treasures on the cheap.”

For the first time in Betteridge’s storied history, we will be opening the silver vault to our customers and friends, pricing each and every work of art at ‘too good to miss’ price points.

Patrick Mavros: Student of Nature, Master Silversmith

by on December 1st, 2009

Patrick Mavros Silver Turkeys, $33,000 for the pair

Rarely and wonderfully do I experience true genius first hand. Invariably, there’s a wealth of sweat and study belying the shock in seeing a real work of art, and with Patrick Mavros’s latest sculptures (over three years in the making), the result of his labors is truly overwhelming.

As a committed turkey hunter and bird watcher, the realism and mating panache of the tom turkey, even in glowing silver, is amazing. The demure hen is the girl I’ve watched so many times, coyly surveying her surroundings out of the corner of her eye. Every feather is individually chased and engraved, many having been separately formed and inset to give the natural sheen and glimmer of the wild bird’s body and flight feathers.

It’s worth a trip just to admire what a student of nature and a master silversmith can create.

Patrick Mavros: Talented Silversmith, Loving Dad

by on June 1st, 2009

Patrick Mavros Silverback Gorilla Silver Sculptures

Although Patrick Mavros’s flagship store is on Fulham Road in London, he is quick to point out that he is not an Englishman; he is Zimbabwean through and through.

Mavros creates some of the finest silver in the world from a rustic estate on a hilltop outside Harare. From his rural compound, Mavros crafts exquisite silver sculptures, jewelry, and accessories that bring the African Bush into the homes of his prestigious clientele, which includes the English Royal Family and J.K. Rowling.

In keeping with his quixotic, truly authentic personality his animal sculptures are startlingly realistic yet charmingly whimsical. From elephant wine coasters and monkey swizzle sticks, to Baobab tree candelabras and exquisitely cast silverback gorilla sculptures (pictured above), Mavros’s creations come to life before your eyes.

Although Mavros is best known as a talented silversmith, his life revolves around his wife, Catja, and their four sons: Patrick Jr., Alexander, Benjamin and Forbes. His sons are actively involved in the business, and have helped create a distinctive line of products that will bring a smile of satisfaction to the face of even the most discriminating dad.