CURIOS IN THE MAKING.

As a set-off to the losses which have been sustained in the past, and the ever present risk of loss from fire and robbery, there is the small consolation that Time is always making curios. What are to-day the height of fashion and the most up-to-date novelties will soon become obsolete in their use, and curios in the possession of which future generations and peoples will revel. The changes in social life and in the habits of a people tend to make the antiques of the future. The world grows apace, and the pace quickens, so that it is only natural to assume that curios are now being fashioned at a much quicker rate than formerly. When the antiques of former generations are examined it is found that there have been times when the fashion of things has changed very slowly and it has taken many years to alter customs and to change the patterns of domestic plate. The change is more rapid now. The collection of silver plate with which to enrich the sideboard, to ornament the table, and to convey a sense of importance to the guest has always been one of the aims of the home connoisseur, and the retention of those things which in a very few years become dear owing to little incidents with which they are associated tend to prevent the exchange or loss of such family requisites. The possession of silver plate is a laudable ambition, for it signifies just pride in the home in which these objects are to be used, and a proper fitness of the dignity which should attach to every home, and especially one in which the owner cares to lavish money in its furnishings. In modern days sterling silver has not quite the same attraction as in olden time, because there are so many more beautiful things made of other metals and the modern process of electroplating and electro-gilding enable the householder to buy handsome pieces and to make their tables and rooms very gorgeous at a lesser cost than by the use of sterling silver. The design of modern goods is decorative, even if produced in less expensive materials. In olden time wooden trenchers gave place to the pewter platters and the handsome flagons and cups of " shining pewter " which were used with smaller vessels of silver. A very remarkable impetus was given to buying among the middle classes when what is now known as " Sheffield-plate " was first produced, and the silversmiths of that day were enabled to model their goods after the fashion of the older silversmiths, and of the potters, who ran in double harness with them in matters of design. When the making of " Sheffield-plate " fell into disuse and electroplated wares took its place then articles of Sheffield-plate became curios in the making, and as changes in design and in the use of certain things became unfashionable then more curios were shaped, and thus every decade some new curio is taking form, being superseded by something which in turn will lose its charm as an article of daily use and become a relic to be preserved with even greater care. The same thing goes on in every grade of society and in every class of goods, although fashions recur again and in time many of the old things come up again and afford their owners a double interest not only in that are they curios but also welcome articles for common use once more restored; preserved, however, with greater care than the ordinary modern replicas. Many things are now cheapened by the use of machinery in production and the easier ways of manufacture, but nothing will in the eyes of the collector ever take the place of old hand-made silver bearing the maker's initials or touch mark, and Hall marks and date letters by which their periods of production and their place of origin are known, and thus their intrinsic value as curios can be assessed.

the designer and the architect stood out conspicuously, and appeared on a higher plane than the workmen who carried out the orders and designs of the fabricators with slavish precision. The men who modelled statues and performed marvellous feats in the creation of monumental works were, in the past even more than in the present day, the actual workers, fearing to entrust the execution of their designs to others. This has been the case with the most renowned sculptors in marble and stone, and equally so with those who have fashioned relics in gold and silver and ornamented them with gems. Famous silversmiths have been known in all ages, and fortunately many of their most important works still extant are rightly accredited to known designers, the artists who were responsible for the entire work. Hand labour has at all times been conspicuous in the production of the best works, and the men who have become famous for the individuality of their handiwork engraved and chiselled their productions and embellished their designs with their own hands.