November 7, 2011

Auction Treasure

As I mentioned yesterday, my friend David and I attended an auction…in a dive warehouse in a bad part of town. While we both swore we weren’t going to bid on anything, we both bid on lots of things.

This auction was more like a country auction than a proper auction. There were tables and tables of things, and each person would wander around, pick up a collection of pieces that they wanted, and then take them up to the auctioneer. At that point, you’d hope that no one else spotted what you had and bid against you.

Tucked away in a box of junk, I spotted this sweet little silver vase. It was disgustingly filthy and tarnished to black. But I thought it had nice lines and I liked the engraving on it.silver1I started working on cleaning it this afternoon, and after about two hours, I’d gotten half of the piece polished. In doing so, I uncovered a little hallmark that I’d not spotted yesterday. Nor had the auctioneer. hw hallmarkAlthough it’s hard to decipher, the characters from left to right are a shield with HW&Co in it. Then an M and an S, EP and then a pair of crossed keys. Using these clues, I found out that the maker is Henry Wilkinson & Co. The firm was founded in 1760. In 1829, the firm was active as Henry Wilkinson & Co and in 1872, was converted into a limited liability company under the name Henry Wilkinson & Co Ltd. In 1892, the firm was acquired by Walker & Hall which used a different set of marks.

So, my pretty little piece, for which I paid in the low single digits, was made sometime before 1892 in Sheffield, England.silver4Cleaned up nicely, no?


  1. I just discovered that if you line a bowl with tinfoil, then add hot water and baking soda the reaction will remove the tarnish! I tried it and it works! I am thinking that perhaps foil pans would be easier if the piece isn't too large.
    What a beautiful find!


  2. Bravo! And you deserve it! There are treasures like that all over the place! We have to keep them out of the dumpsters!

    Bravo again!

  3. Very nice Meg. Good buy. A lot of the auctions I attend are estate auctions, boxes and boxes of silverware, all quite similar to your piece. I love the cleaning and research process, you can unearth some little gems.
    Have a great day.

  4. Excellent score. Are you planning its use? I cant tell if it is big enough for a flower arrangement but I'm sure you will find some elegant way to use it.

  5. OMG! DIVINE!! Are you putting it in your Etsy shop?

  6. Dear Aunt Meggie: I cannot believe that -- yet again! -- you have somehow found an absolutely FABULOUS item...and I wasn't with you!!! LOL

    You truly are the Junk Wisperer. Things just seem to call your name & you find them. You have the best eye for items among things of questionnable value. Keep up the good treasure hunting!!

    - Miss M.A.

  7. I love it!! What perfect Christmas present it would make filled with an assortment of pens and pencils. (Hmmmm--this gives me an idea....) xoxo Mary
    (Still walking on air over my new BB book)

  8. Hi Meg--Have you ever used Simichrone Metal Polish? It works really well and the work goes very quickly? Mary

  9. Fill it with drink and make an evening out of it! A very long evening!

  10. Great sleuthing! Love your adventures!

  11. OMG read the Bishop Museum PDF about the care of silver --- you want silver and don't want to polish it -- USE it--- no eggs, though, sulfur bad but calcium carbonate (chalk) a soft abrasive, is what curators use --- getting close to the holidays let's use our silver gals also how about some tips about auctions --- what to expect -- what are some of the "whip up the crowd" techniques pluses and minuses of auctions do tell please


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