Walker & Hall Dessert Service, ca. 1900
This was found by my mother-in-law, who collected antiques, and she lived in El Paso all of her life and got to know a lot of antique dealers, and at this particular time, Fort Bliss was bringing back a lot of the troops who had great treasures, and the antique dealers knew her quite well, and they presented this to her and she snapped it up.
I see, so you think it came from England.
Somebody who was in the war brought it back to her.
I think that's absolutely right. It's a dessert service, a dessert canteen. If I take out this tray here, we'll see the marks, and it's made by Walker & Hall of Sheffield. And this mark helps us to date it to around 1900, somewhere around there. What's also very interesting about this set is that it's not actually silver. You may have thought it was silver?
I thought it was silver plate, probably.
It is silver plate. Walker & Hall were a very famous company in England, and they were masters in electroplating and Sheffield plating. And if we look here, this is the bowl to serve the fruits and whatnot. If we lift this forward, we can see that it's got a wonderful array of things for the dessert table. We have two sets of nutcrackers. On either side of these wonderfully engraved chased grape scissors are these beautiful dessert spoons. Also, 12 knives and 12 forks. These are dessert knives and forks with mother-of-pearl handles and are beautifully engraved, again, with grapes and floral sprays, leaves. One of the things that's very interesting about this first here is it's in the shape of a crown. Now, that's very interesting given a letter that seems to come with the box. What can you tell me about the letter?
The letter states that the person who received this received it from Queen Victoria.
Now, given the crown as we can see it and given the suggested royal provenance that it may have, this could be something that's quite special indeed. However, we would need to conduct much further research into it before we understood, you know, fully how far that went back and whatnot, because obviously Victoria died in 1901 and this is dated 1954, so there's a little bit of a lag there. If we close it, we can see it's in its wonderful mahogany canteen, which is inlaid with ebony and satinwood and it's also got spandrels at he four corners of the border, which is lovely. And in the center is a vacant brass cartouche. If it was without the provenance, I would estimate it at auction for around $1,500 to $2,000. However, with the association, it could do, you know, five or ten times that much.
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