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Episode 405 - Mellow Yellow
Ivory Silver
Handcrafted beauty...
Looking to add a bit of mellow yellow to your service ware? Well, you've come to the right place. Joined by antique and modern silver expert Richard Flensted-Holder, we discussed the beauty of ivory-handled service ware.

The first piece we talked about was a "crummy" one. Actually, it was an ivory handled "crumber", with a flat silver head, which is used to scrape crumbs from the table. Richard described how you would have a napkin in one hand, the crumber in the other, and you would scrape the crumbs from the table into the napkin and then empty them into a garbage can.

I pointed out that the ivory handle had a tiny crack in it and that the colour of the ivory had started to age. Richard described how hand movements, light, and water will, over time, crack the ivory and mellow its colour from white to yellow.

Next, we looked at a salad set, an art deco design from about 1920-1925. The handles were made of wood, and there was a strip of silver around the middle. The prongs of the fork and the head of the spoon were made of ivory, which, at this point, was quite yellow. Richard pointed out the hallmarks on each, which could be either on the silver or on the ivory itself. Hallmarks typically consist of the city or the company. In this case, it said "Goram", as well as the "925" sterling mark so that the quality of the silver was indicated.

Richard also brought with him some other cutlery with ivory handles, silver blades, prongs, etc. He pointed out the hallmark on a small knife, which was easy to identify with a city mark, a date mark, and a maker's mark. There was a Blackamore crest at the bottom of the handle, which Richard suggested, was probably a family crest. There was a little bit of cracking and yellowing in the handle, due once again to the aging process.

But Richard's pride and joy was a piece that belonged to George IV when he was Prince of Wales. A silver flask with an ivory finial at the top, it had Prince George's crest engraved on one side, and another engraving once the Prince became King. Having discovered it at Christie's in New York, Richard described how it had been acquired there from the Chicago Institute. The piece had an interesting history as it was part of a very large service that King George had given to his mistress, Lady Cunningham.

As I listened to Richard trace the piece back to its origin, I realized that the fun of antique pieces is that they are not only beautiful, but also that their history is often so intriguing. That makes the search and collecting of antiques of any kind so irresistible.

Special Thanks: Richard Flensted-Holder - Antique and Modern Silver; Toronto, ON (416) 961-3414, New York, NY (212) 517-3298