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Posts in Terry’s Corner

An Old Stuffing Spoon

by on May 20th, 2014

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


The Value of History

by on August 9th, 2012

This antique snuff box or bonbonnière is hand-engraved and engine-turned below multiple layers of colored glass (a technique Faberge becomes famous for copying an hundred years later). Trapped within the early 19th century Parisian enamel is the golden inscription, “DON DE L’EMPEREUR” (“A Gift of the Emperor”)- for you know who…

A Fine, Napoleon Snuff Box

Lions at the Gate

by on April 10th, 2012

Once or twice a week, I paw through auction catalogs; jewelry first and then all sorts of small regional auctions with paintings, rugs and just old stuff. If I win more than one in fifty bids, then I know I’ve overpaid between the commissions and shipping. Sometimes though, things just happen…

Last month, as the driver brings me back to the store, the last leg of our whirlwind trip to Baselworld, I see a mountain of packing material piled on the sidewalk out front and about four feet of a pair of six foot bronze lions. Vague recollections of an inch by inch picture in a Southern auction catalog came to me…

Today, the lions guard the door, a reminder to read the fine print of auction reports.

A Lesson in Time & Taste

by on October 28th, 2011

Todd Mansion, Greenwich in the Early 20th Century

Todd Mansion, Greenwich in the Early 20th Century

The 1930’s were a glorious period for the great Greenwich estates. Stone cutters, plaster workers and wood carvers put extraordinary finishing touches on grand houses; classically trained landscape architects designed wondrous gardens, then left in the hands of hereditary stewards; families hosted splendid dinner parties in wide backyard fields.

It was a time of grandeur, and within these walls, jewels of simple, but powerful beauty were worn with ease and abandon.

Below is a star sapphire of over 50 carats, beautifully set during that period. The rays of the star, glowing on fields of microscopic minerals riding the crystalline structure, extend vividly to it’s horizon.

30 Carat Star Sapphire Ring

An Elegant 30ct Star Sapphire Ring

Mimicking the geometry of this asterism, the gemstone is enhanced by triangular and kite-shaped diamond shoulders. These side stones were carved with no regard to the amount of diamond dropped away on the cutter’s floor to achieve the perfect symmetry demanded to follow the points of the central star.

My grandfather always maintained that to truly judge a jewelry craftsman’s care and ability, you have to look beneath, in this case inside, the piece; he’d have been thrilled by this ring.

Between bridging of platinum polished to mirror-like brightness (only achieved by “thrumming” leather or cotton strings through the ring’s openings for days), is the original owner’s cypher.

Cypher Underneath the Sapphire

The Original Owner's Cypher

To cut sapphire at all- the second hardest of substances- it takes a diamond; and to fashion this perfectly entwined monogram, it took a master cutter, working a graver formed from a diamond and then skillfully wielded in the most delicate and hardest task imaginable: carving an elegant cypher.

Pop used to say that the thirties were a time when you had to have taste to have money. Although some might suggest that this no longer remains the case, this jewel from one of Greenwich’s truly “Great Estates” could make you a believer that it once was the rule.

P.S., so would seeing Old Mrs. Wilshire, who early on in my career had her chauffeur stand outside the store’s door, holding a brace of massive, dignified wolfhounds…

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

Patek Philippe Ref. 725 Perpetual Calendar Pocket Watch

by on July 22nd, 2011

Patek Philippe Ref. 725 Perpetual Calendar Astronomical Pocket Watch

While big timepieces are the style today, some watches capture the hearts of generation after generation of collectors.

Our Patek Philippe astronomical, perpetual calendar is a “best of best”: where you’ve surpassed the end of the scale to measure greatness. In a format this grand, all the months of the leap year cycle are bold; the enamel night sky and golden moon vivid.

In pristine condition from 1951, one of Patek’s best is ready to be engraved for the first time ever.

Seen at right: Patek Philippe perpetual calendar keyless, open-faced pocket watch (ref. 725), featuring a m. 17”’-170, rhodium-plated with “fausses-côtes” decoration, 18 jewels, straight line lever escapement, adjusted for heat, cold, isochronism and 5 positions, blued steel Breguet balance spring with swan neck regulator; three-body, “variée carrure plate” with a concave bezel; silver dial with applied gold Arabic numerals and gold “feuille” hands; perpetual calendar complication with sub-dials for days-of-the-week, month with leap year indication, date and seconds with moon-phase display aperture; and 46mm, 18k yellow gold case with a polished gold case back.

Noisy Watches

by on July 31st, 2010

Patek Philippe 5079J Minute Repeater

Patek Philippe Ref. 5079J Minute Repeater

All the very best things I’ll guard and happily live with.

Recently, we bought a Patek Phillipe minute repeating wrist watch with cathedral gongs; one I can actually hear chime the time with my one good ear: great Patek’s are the meat on John Reardon’s plate, as he continually finds and buys both the rare and the wonderful. I do miss the days when I could hear them tick…

A Note on Father’s Day

by on June 1st, 2010

William Henry Damascus Folding Knife, $725

For dads, Father’s Day is a funny, wistful time to enjoy some time with the family: the children and adopted friends of kids, the parents of school friends who themselves become part of the family. It’s a day to see the structure you’ve built, and grown, and to enjoy the warmth and shelter of it. So often, dads go largely unnoticed. Dads commute, battle tough businesses, teach and toil- usually out of sight; however, it’s really nice to be seen once in awhile.

Simple gifts from kids and wives take on the sentimentality that is the currency of love for the family. The great thing, the silly one, the pocket knife from mom, pulled out to open the morning mail – each become a small monument and message of these bonds. It’s the point to this odd little holiday, to recognize and add to these ties that we so happily let bind.

Crazy Terry’s Auction & Horse-Swapping Parlor

by on March 1st, 2010

Estate M. Gérard Emerald & Diamond 18k Gold Collar Necklace, $195,000

Lately, we’ve been buying and selling like madmen, while much of the jewelry world has been subdued. Even at the shows we attend in Europe, Asia and all over the US, we’ve stood out for being wildly busy while other dealers looked on wondering why their booths resembled ghost towns.

The difference is that we go further afield to make markets than any other dealer and we know what things are worth. This means that Simon and I can feel comfortable buying, even in a difficult economic environment. We have the tightest margins that we have ever had in our history, but so long as we keep making markets and stay busy as the dickens, it makes for a great business plan.

Most importantly, for you, it means a constant bombardment of new and exceptional watches, jewels and precious odds & ends, of all ages and kinds. It’s a lot of fun.

All the best, to the curious and the collector- come on down!

Value vs. Values

by on February 1st, 2010

Cartier Panthére Diamond & Sapphire Bangle

Seeking value does not mean buying something simply because it is cheap. The price matters, but what may be more important are personal values.

Does a gift really communicate what you want it to? Forever. Rarity. Quality.

The statement that you make in what you buy, and indeed, where you buy it, helps to convey your feelings. Stick with the values that you admire most when you make a purchase, and the gift will say what you mean.

This year I have welcomed my son and daughter, Win and Brooke, now the fourth generation to work at Betteridge, into the business. I’ve done my best to instill in them the same values that I have in my company- honesty, integrity and a passion for all things that are beautiful.