George III Antique Silver Basket

GBP 3,350.00

Contact Dealer To Purchase

Object Description

A very fine antique silver basket of rectangular form with swing handle and pierced silver foot. Suitable for bread, cakes and candy, flowers and fruit. Excellent quality and weight as you’d expect from this highly desirable maker. The openwork vine borders are among the most distinctive and accomplished achievements of Benjamin Smith and similar to those of Paul Storr, not surprisingly as both firms manufactured almost entirely for Rundell and Bridge at this time. The centre has an engraved “C” within an applied cartouche with swags and bells.

Weight 1322 grams, 42.5 troy ounces.
Height 21.5cm (handle extended), 7.2cm (handle folded).
Length 30cm. Width 24.5cm.
London 1807.
Maker Benjamin Smith.

Marks. Stamped underneath and on the handle with a full set of English silver hallmarks. The applied central cartouche is marked for maker “CB”.

Maker: Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith II, London silversmith. Originally of Birmingham, born 15 December 1764, first marriage 1788. Grimwade records first mention of Benjamin Smith through a 3rd party recommendation as ‘an Ingeneous Chaser’ in 1790 to Matthew Boulton at Birmingham. By September 1792 the firm of Boulton and Smith, latchet manufacturers was in existence.

In 1801 Benjamin withdrew from the partnership and went to London. On 1 February 1802, Benjamin married for a second time to Mary Shiers at Greenwich Church and was presumably setting up the workshop there. First mark, in partnership with Digby Scott, 4 October 1802. Second mark together, 21 March 1803. The partnership apparently dissolved by 11 May 1807, when Smith entered a third separate mark. Fourth mark, 25 June 1807. Fifth mark in partnership with his brother James 1809. Sixth separate mark, 1812. Seventh mark, 1814. Eighth mark in partnership with his son Benjamin, 1816. Ninth mark alone again, 1818.

By his first marriage Smith had four sons, of whom Benjamin was the eldest and three daughters, and by Mary Shiers a fourth daughter in 1803 at Greenwich. His third son Digby, born 2 June 1797, may be assumed to be the godson of Digby Scott.

It appears that Smith was of a difficult and probably irascible nature and is this borne out by the variations in his entry of marks with and without partners. His firm was of course, together with Storr, manufacturing almost entirely for Rundell and Bridge, and it seems that the later may have supported Smith’s move to London. The firm’s most important production is probably The Jamaica Service of 1803 in The Royal Collection. The silver-gilt trays, baskets, and wine coasters with open-work vine borders are among the most distinctive and accomplished achievements. The designs, so closely related to those of Storr, most almost certainly stemmed from central control by Rundell and Bridge.

Benjamin Smith III, eldest son of Benjamin Smith II, apprenticed to his father 1808, free 1821. 1st mark with his father 1816. 2nd mark alone. 3rd mark, 2 sizes, 1822. 4th mark, 2 sizes, 1837. Livery 1842. Died 1850.

Free Shipping Worldwide

Object Literature

Antique Silver Fruit Baskets are nearly always described as cake baskets but were more commonly used for bread and fruit. Although 17th century versions are known to exist they were not commonly found until about 1735 onwards. Early examples usually have side handles or no handles and tend to be considerably heavier than George III examples and later.

Object Condition

This basket is in very good condition.

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)207 288 1939
+44 (0)7904 297419

Dealer Location

Vault 31-32
The London Silver Vaults
53-64 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1QS

View Map