Silver performs consistently well at auction. Chinese silver is in a league of its own. It always has been. When it comes to makers, they can make a nice piece into a truly desirable work of art. Even in the 1880s in China, the silversmiths were well-regarded but it was often the retail silversmiths, the men commissioning the silver, who dictated the style and subject of the metal work. Shanghai-based retail silversmith Luen Wo was at the top of this pile.
The Asian Works of Art Auction on Tuesday 7th July includes not one but two striking examples of work by this silversmith. Lot 419 is a lovely bowl with dragons and clouds and on dragon head feet, and lot 330 is a large rose bowl by the same maker. It is a stunning piece of metal work. The dragons coil round this bowl; they have life in them. Away from Luen Wo, lot 317 brings six Chinese silver figures to the market. These figures have been performing well and this lot is expected to exceed estimate. Of more traditional form, lot 363 is a Chinese silver three piece tea service - functional and beautiful, as the Chinese silversmiths do so well.
But it is not only Chinese silver that regularly out-does its estimates. Lot 297, for example, is an Indian silver tea service and the auction also includes several fine examples of Straits silver. From Indian to Burmese, Chinese to Malaysian, silver works of art, large and small, will no doubt be a highlight at Tuesday's auction.