Shining a Spotlight on Silver

Published 19th October 2023

By Lissy Tsigarides View profile

Staff Images 4 ST 051023 089

Silver specialist Sam Tuke brings his wealth of knowledge and passion for objects and their stories to Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood fine art auctioneers and valuers.

His unquenchable curiosity was sparked during a childhood excursion with his family to the extraordinary home of Sir Francis Drake’s descendants. Among the artefacts they uncovered and displayed on the table, was a royal seal, a gift from the Queen to the legendary explorer, which captivated his imagination.

At 18, he embarked on a restoration course in Exeter and later worked as porter at Bonham’s auctioneers. His career encompassed various roles in different auction houses in the Midlands, allowing him to gain expertise in all aspects of the industry, from the photography department, to becoming a valuer specialising in fields such as furniture and architectural items. He absorbed a wealth of knowledge from his mentors along the way and even worked as an independent dealer specialising in Chinese ceramics before completing a degree in Fine Art Valuations (FAV) from Southampton to further his expertise.

Sam joined the team at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood this year as their silver specialist. The Silver auctions, held in partnership with the jewellery department four times a year, not only feature traditional items like candlesticks and tableware, but also smaller collectible pieces such as novelty menu holders, caddy spoons, and miniature furniture, which have become popular. These items span various origins, including English, Continental and Oriental silver and silver plate.

Sam emphasises the versatility of silver items in contemporary settings, showcasing everything from Corinthian column lamp bases that can be adapted to electric light fittings, to an exquisite oval silver two-handle tray - ideal for serving Champagne on a Christmas morning. Whether you’re adorning a kitchen or adding elegance to your dining room, the auction caters to the tastes of collectors and interior designers alike. Still thinking of Christmas, the upcoming auction contains a canteen of Kings pattern flatware, that would grace any dining table. Sam’s advice for caring for silver is very simple: hot soapy water used regularly, left for five minutes or as soon it is cool enough to touch, then a quick rub with a tea towel brings it back to a high sheen. With the holiday season approaching, Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood is poised to host an exciting Silver and Jewellery Auction on October 31st and November 1st (2023), featuring an expanded selection of luxury and designer items. This makes it the perfect destination for collectors and those seeking exquisite Christmas gifts. The auction boasts a diverse range of items, from silk Hermes and Liberty scarves to vintage whiskeys, Louis Vuitton purses, designer shoes, Cartier pens, Tiffany and Co. silver bangles, designer dog collars, and Rolex watches, blending style and functionality. And as for the silver section - an excellent selection of regional assayed silver awaits, particularly from Exeter and Chester. Serious silver collectors will find lot 336 - a tea caddy by important makers of the 19th Century Joseph Angell (pictured above).

Participating in these auctions is straightforward. You can browse the catalogue and register to bid online, or by telephone, or submit a commission (absentee bid) in advance. Live internet bidding is available through various platforms, including their own BH&L Live platform which incurs no additional charges.

For those who prefer an in-person experience, the Exeter saleroom, complete with ample parking, welcomes you.

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