Table of Contents
The sources of metals-Incentives to production-Precious possessions- Wastage in the past-Curios in the making. THE study of old silver, pewter and Sheffield plate is one which appeals strongly to the " home connoisseur," in that these antiques are among the most treasured " home " possessions, as they are also the precious relics of the Church and of the State. Antique plate of the more valuable kinds is mostly of silver-sometimes gilt ; but the scarcity of good examples of plate made in Sheffield at a certain period, of a composite metal, has placed the value of " Sheffield plate," as it is called by specialists, very much higher than the metal of which it was composed would warrant, especially is this so when specimens are worn and the copper undermetal is visible. Pewter was early a metal of which domestic vessels were made, and some very interesting objects have been preserved in old households. Enthusiastic collectors of very early plate are comparatively few, and most of the best specimens are to be seen in public museums, in the Halls of the old City Companies, in municipal displays-there are, however, many notable examples of genuine antique silver and pewter in the hands of private persons who do not willingly part with their family possessions and who go to many " shifts " to retain their old plate. The changes in fortune which have befallen many good old families have, however, too often necessitated the dispersal of silver and other valuables, and the opportunities afforded to the wealthy, with no heirlooms, have not been neglected, thus it is that many parvenues are in possession of the rare pieces of plate that once graced the sideboards of those who can trace back their ancestry to the days of the Stuarts, and perhaps to Tudor times. This volume of the " Home Connoisseur Series " is written in the interests of those who own odd pieces of plate, the true value of which they hardly understand, and also as an inducement to others to increase their family treasures and add to the value of their personal estates in silver and other kinds of plate which make their homes beautiful, and enrich their tables and sideboards. The greater scarcity of genuine antiques and the ever increasing number of collectors and those self-made men who are now able to satisfy their craving for family possessions-those once owned by older families-make it unlikely that the market value of plate will depreciate-rather the contrary-thus securing the soundness of investment in " old silver " from a monetary standpoint.