Searching for Silver
Several figural match safe reproductions have been causing confusion in shows and online auctions. All three known as Ally Sloper, banded Havana cigars, and Japanese dragon began appearing about the middle of 2004. All three new safes are copies of vintage originals.
Portland, Oregon silversmith James Mackie's new figural napkin rings are so well made, they are virtually impossible to separate from antique Victorian originals. This article is an update on additional napkin rings Mackie has added since his work was first reported in 1995.
A mail order catalog specializing in "historic gifts of Great Britain" offers this new Royal Air Force in sterling silver. It is the so-called "sweetheart brooch" originally worn by wives and girlfriends of wartime airmen.
Portland, Oregon silversmith James Mackie is making a series of new figural napkin rings nearly identical to Victorian era silver plated originals. This article will features Mackie's rings and provide some general background on original figural rings.
Another group of new figural napkin rings has just appeared in the market. This latest batch is made in India. All are genuine silver plate over brass. The new rings are copies of specific Victorian originals but none have any permanent mark. ACRN paid $50 for the group of four new rings shown in this article.
Since the 1970's, a number of modern sterling figural match safes have been made in England. At least 27 different new match safes are available including a Toby dog, 3 versions of Punch, claw and ball, an owl, moon face, mouse, bear, cat, fish, violin, horse, shoe, dog's head, elephant's head and rooster's head (see photos). All of the new figural safes are reportedly made from molds taken from Victorianera originals.
More new match safes are appearing in the American market. Some are copied directly from old safes while others only imitate the look or style of the old. For the purposes of this article, the term "match safe" includes English vesta boxes.
A U.S. west coast jewelry and gift wholesaler recently introduced an extensive line of Victorian look-alike sterling silver items at a major summer gift show. This line is being promoted as "Antique Reproductions - where the past meets the present." There are about 60 individual items ranging from jewelry to novelties that have been copied from or made to resemble Victorian era originals such as chatelaines, sewing items, needle cases, tape measures and novelties.
The new sterling matchsafe on the left is shown with its Made in Thailand paper tag. It was copied from the American Art Nouveau original on the right.