GREAT TRADE MOVEMENT

During recent years we have grown accustomed to a continuous series of art exhibitions, and yet it is not so very long, historically, since that Great Exhibition in Hyde Park which astonished so many visitors was held. As we have seen the world's silversmiths were there, and many wonderful pieces in silver, silver-gilt and electroplate then displayed are still regarded as masterpieces of the art. The wonderful collection of art treasures then shown told that art was not dead, and that the trade revivals of after years, the later period of Victoria's reign, although perhaps not quite in accordance with present day ideas of the nouveau art would be productive of much fine work, and would supply the world with much that was good, solid, and even decorative, silver plate worthy of being placed among the older heirlooms of wealthy families. The wares hall-marked within the last half century are not, it is true, old enough to carry any curio or antiquarian value ; they are just ordinary useful plate for the table. The makers, following the vogue of former years adding here and there a new design, something which the customers of the period required. The nineteenth century ladies loved to overload their tea tables with good things and crowded many choice china dishes and pieces of plate full of sweet meats, jellies and preserves, upon the table. Improved silver appointments soon made their appearance; spoons were fashioned and engraved as servers, and rapidly every household had its fish carvers and fish knives and forks, followed shortly by dessert knives and forks of silver, later the handles being made of pearl or ivory. As tea became less costly its use became more general, and tea and coffee services were made larger. There were also many ornamental silver tea kettles and urns, the introduction of electro-plated wares and the cheapened processes of manufacture helping to make all these things popular, and thus it is that the supply of sterling silver has been kept up although silver substitutes have been introduced and their use with the more valuable plate has become general.