9-15 June ’11
Wow! After the mildest autumn on record, Mother Nature has decided to make her presence felt. We’ve had a week of the wildest weather – storms, tornadoes, thunder and lightening, power outages, the biggest hail stones I’ve ever seen, endless rain and mud! This all added up to ‘indoors’. The Lovely Man and I spent the weekend building a display cabinet for my silver collection (mostly silver, there’s a few other bits that aren’t silver, but are interesting and old). These are things that I collected about 20 years ago, some I bought and others were gifts. The collection has had several different homes, but for the last couple of years they’ve languished out of sight. It was time to bring the old treasures back in to the light. I was inspired to try a little product photography after I’d polished everything up.
Bits and Bobs
Lighting. I still haven’t really got this sorted. Two incandescent bulbs plus my pop up flash, this is what I had to work with. And it turns out that shiny polished silver has a penchant for reflecting every random colour within camera view. So again I was faced with a challenge. A whole lot of tweaking and Photoshopping has removed the weird colour casts. These are a selection of the best from my collection.
Some of the shots I’ve simply converted to black and white to remove the weird colours. The brush required a layered approach, blending in a colour layer for the bristles, but using the conversion for the main body of the shot. The perfume bottle simply had the colour removed from the background – the white backdrop took on the colours from the bulbs. The pocket watch took three separate layers. One for the coloured face, one to get the exposure of the case front right, and another for the background.
I had a little note book in which I’d recored all the information I had on these pieces as I bought them, and the prices I’d paid. Sadly I cannot find the note book, so that information is lost. I’ve done some internet research to see what I can find out about my treasures.
A – Table and Chairs. A gift from my Mum. The chairs are made from 925 silver, the table I think is nickel plated brass. So not originally a set, but they’re very sweet.
B – Vesta Box. This was given to my by my Nana. It was used to hold the little wax matches of the day, the dangerous (as opposed to the ‘safety matches’ of today) type that only required friction to light. The ribbed striker is situated on the bottom of the case. The ring on the top would allow the box to be attached to a watch chain. Inside the lid the case is hallmarked. The maker’s mark is ‘T&S’ Turner and Simpson, who registered their mark in 1912. It’s marked for Birmingham but the date stamp is difficult to decipher. The ‘z’ in a squarish stamp could belong to several different years, but my best guess is 1924.
C – Perfume Bottle. Blue glass with pierced brass surround and top. The threaded stopper includes a tiny glass rod to apply the perfume. There remains a faint echo of the scent in the bottle
D – Brush. This cute little brush was used to keep one’s moustache neat and tidy. It’s marked Birmingham, the year either 1935 or 1860, the date stamp is too worn to read clearly.
E – Salt and Pepper. This is my most recent acquisition, purchased in Clive earlier this year. They are marked English Plate Silver, no date marks. The design leads me to think they may be of Art Deco era, but this is a guess.
F – Dagger Broach. This little decorative piece appears to be of Middle Eastern/Arabian origin. The dagger itself pulls out of the scabbard and is secured with a chain. It has a horn blade, the handle is inlaid wood. There is a marking that may be Arabic on the back of the handle, but this has been partially obscured by the chain mounting. The scabbard has a solid silver back, the front is formed with a filigree pattern of silver threads.
G – Pepper Pot. Shaped like a trophy, this little pot looks triumphant! It is hallmarked Sterling, from Chester and made in 1907. Unfortunately the maker’s mark has been polished to oblivion.
H – Swan Salt Dish. The body of the swan is crystal, formed in to two compartments for salt and/or mustard. The wings and head are silver, the wings hinged to swing away to allow access to the condiments. There are some very tiny markings on one wing, but I can’t make them out. It is interesting to note that salt had to be kept in crystal or glass, rather than in silver shakers that would match the pepper pots. Salt reacts badly with silver.
I – Pocket Watch. This was given to me by my Grandmother, we think it belonged to her father, Arthur Spencer – there is an ‘AS’ scratched in to the case. The pretty floral design on the face suggests it was originally meant to be a woman’s watch, so perhaps it was once his mother’s. The glass was broken when I got the watch and has since been removed. We did try to source a new glass many years ago, but were unsuccessful. The case is marked with 0.800 and a bird, possibly a turkey or a peacock. I understand this makes it a Swiss watch, the case 80% silver. It also has a serial number 149979 stamped inside.