Wiener Werkstätte Silver Demitasse Set, ca. 1915
It comes from Vienna, I think. My father was a survivor of Dachau. He came to the United States in 1940, and about eight years later he went back to help people that had helped him. And he had already earned his first money, and he couldn't get back anything that our family had, so he decided he would buy some of the spoils of war. So it was either '48 or '49, and it's been in my possession since my father died 28 years ago.
So he went back to purchase those things that he had to leave behind because he was forced to flee, found that he couldn't pick them up, and instead invested the money in some pieces of silver. You said that they were from Vienna. They are. It's a demitasse set, and it comprises a little coffee pot here, a sugar bowl together with the sugar pincers for the cubes, a creamer here, and of course six demitasse cups and saucers with porcelain linings. Now, I do notice that one of them has a missing stirrer here. And two of them here and here are missing their little ebony knobs. So that means that it's not in perfect condition. If I turn this coffee pot over, we can see here a very small monogram mark, which is a "W.W." It's an interlace W, and it stands for the Wiener Werkstätte, which literally translates as "Vienna workshop." These were a group of people that came together in 1903, headed up by Josef Hoffman and Koloman Moser. And they wanted to create an aesthetic that was purely modern, purely for the every man, and with an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. Their motto was, "It's better to make one thing in ten days than ten things in one day." And they only produced work from between 1903 and 1932. The reason why the Wiener Werkstätte stopped producing in 1932 was because they were forced to by the rise of the Third Reich. So it strangulated creativity and artistic expression. Things by the Wiener Werkstätte do come up for auction quite a lot. When they do, they always attract good interest. Now in 2011 and 2012, silver has been very high in value, and so things have been scrapped for their material value. This doesn't weigh very much. I think its commodity value, it would be worth something like let's say $1,500 to $2,000. But as it's Wiener Werkstätte, I think conservatively at auction it'd be worth something like $10,000 to $15,000.
Wow. I'm just... I'm really flabbergasted.
There are eight or nine silversmiths that worked at the Wiener Werkstätte. We haven't identified the marks on this one as yet. If we worked on it for a little bit longer, I'm sure that we could have found out. And if it's one of a few, the auction estimate I gave you could have proved to be very conservative.
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