Everything Novelty Except The Price

12th July 2021

The rise in popularity for novelty silver shows no signs of stopping and for very good reason. As we dust down the now well worn checklist of what people actually want to own, quirky items tend to tick the usual boxes which make an item desirable, collectable and valuable.


So what do we mean? Well quite simply a novelty item is a bit different, it serves a specific purpose, it often is small in stature and made by the best makers to the highest order.


It is much easier to collect items of this nature, often taking up little room but being big in individuality. People crave the best items and want something a little different, so whether it be a collection of animal pin cushions or a row of castle topped card cases we desire their individual nature, high quality and rising values reflect this.


Often 19th century silversmiths used such objects to highlight their skills and it is why these pieces are always of the highest order.


Small silver can often be used today. People are desperate to allow others into their home post Covid and the dinner party will make a huge comeback when the desire of attending pubs wanes and costs to do so increase; people will again want others to visit them in the home. Dare I suggest the resurgence of that most unwanted of areas …. The dining room? Well even as numbers dwindle of this specific meeting place the small silver objects associated with fine dining, pomp and circumstance and quite simply showing off continue to rise.


Menu holders by Morden, table ware by Paul Storr and dining accompaniments from grape scissors to sugar bows are all keenly collected and either shown off in cabinets or actually used.


There is one great name associated with novelty silver boxes and that is Nathaniel Mills.


His fame came from castle topped card cases and from his birth in 1811 to death in 1873, this second generation of jewellers and silversmiths had amassed a £30,000 fortune proving him to be as popular then as now.


Card cases by this master have gone up probably more than any traditional antique in the last ten years and if you own such a specimen expert advice is needed to fulfil its potential.


The illustrated snuff box oozes quality and shows one reason why the name Mills is associated with desirability. Such objects change hands for a few hundred pounds and can start a collection off very quickly, there are much worse investments around at the moment and people like small well made objects and he thrived in their production. However, if you are lucky enough to own a card case illustrating a castle rare examples can reach well into five figures.


The rules in this discipline remain very simple. There are a number of people wanting novelty pieces for a number of reasons which can only be good things if you own such items. Golding Young have a tremendous pedigree in finding the buyers at the right price so if you have a claret jug with a walrus head, or a solid silver stirrup cup in the form of a stag or any number of small silver objects, discard the weighing scales (scrap value represents no representation of value) and let us see what you have.

« Back to News
Kirsty Young Image
Kirsty Young

Director, Chartered Auctioneer & Valuer, Jewellery Specialist

Tel: +44 (0) 1780 751666 Mobile: +44 (0) 7817 763502 E: kirstyyoung@goldingyoung.com
View Profile