Silver has a history, each individual piece as well as the wider subject.
Think about it for a moment, though. In 1941, Britain, and in particular her industrial cities, such as Birmingham, were under intense attack from the Luftwaffe. German bombers were doing their best to smash the city flat. My mother’s house took a direct hit when she was 6 weeks old – and they were in it! I’m lucky to be here to think about it. Britain’s resources were geared to the war effort. “Keep Calm and Carry On” was the quasi-official mantra of the day. English silver from Birmingham during the war seems like an oxymoron.
So who was making English silver napkin rings? Who was buying them? The first question is easy to answer. This one was made by William Suckling Ltd. of Albion Street & Vyse Street, Birmingham. The interesting part is that S Ld. was a mark that was registered for operation in 1934-1935. Yet the piece is date marked for 1941.
We can only conjecture about the answer to the second question. How does this sound as a scenario? Obviously, sterling was and is a gift of great significance. Could this silversmith have been persuaded out of retirement or induced to spend some free time making this napkin ring? Was it a gift for a wedding, anniversary, or my pet theory a significant birthday? Was it specifically commissioned? This was not a time of carefree spending. Britain was fighting for survival. Although impossible to prove, it seems that this is a piece with an interesting story. If only it could talk.
If we think just for a moment beyond its physical beauty, it can tell us a lot about the world at the time it was made.
The history of silver is often our own.
I think of the past and my connection to it. In my opinion, that is one of the best things about silver.