The Antique Cradle

Every antique dealer should have an antique cradle. It’s almost a rite of passage. However, it is very hard to say why. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that caring for a child is a prime instinct and that somehow a cradle in a display gives warmth, conjuring up the image of a safe, homely scene with the baby gentle being rocked to sleep by a doting parent. How cosey the scene seems! That the cradle conveys this image is set deep into our psyche, one only has to think of nursery rhymes “Rock-a-bye baby”. The concept of the crib even infiltrates our understanding of the very foundations of our society –  “the cradle of civilisation” for example.

A Georgian oak cradle, circa 1780.

Figure 1 A Georgian oak cradle dating from approximately 1780. This cradle is available at Carlton Fine Art and Antiques Centre, Salts Mills,

The cradle itself has been around for as long as we have existed, the prehistory cradles no doubt ranged from simple bark cradles to more sophisticated cradles not dissimilar to those produced today. The basic design being a box or receptacle that a baby can be placed in and easily rocked to sleep probably hasn’t changed for centuries. The cradle, along with a bed, has historically been one of the first items added to a household. By the 18th century cradles used by the wealthy became status pieces, many of the Georgian versions were sturdily made from hardwoods such as oak and mahogany and were designed with hooded ends and sometimes decorated with Gothic inspired spires and embellishments (Figure 1). These were large pieces of furniture made to last for years and they were passed on through families so becoming the cradle of the generations. However, fashions and styles change, and by the Victorian period cradles, although still following the same basic design, became softer, a trend that has continued through into the 20th and 21st Century.

This sort of brings us back to the original question – why should an antique dealer have a cradle in a display? I think the answer lies in the fact that a cradle calls to the innate parent in all of us.

Another Mantique a WW2 Military Timor Wrist Watch

Just picked up this great watch – my husband loves it, he even made a quick video of the watch on a turntable . Its quite a hard to find Timor military wrist watch dating to the later part of WW2. At this time the British War Department provided very specific specifications to a number of watch makers for watches designed for use by British military servicemen. These specifications included a 15 jewel highly accurate movement, a black luminous dial with a subsidiary second hand, a shatterproof perspex crystal, a rugged case design and water resistance. These watches are now very collectable and are in high demand. Our last military watch dating from this period  was sold within a few days of us acquiring it.  These watches all carry the markings WWW and a serial number on the back. The WWW standing for Wristwatch Waterproof.

1940s Timor Military Watch 1

This particular watch will be for sale at the next Yorkshire Antiques Fair in Harrogate 0n the  25th and 26th May 2013 and is currently for sale on our Rubly Lane shop from the 27th (if we still have it). Prices for military watches of this period are currently shooting up so they are great investments.

The Georgian Newcastle Tankard

We have just acquired a superb Georgian Solid Silver Tankard made by the excellent Newcastle silversmith John  Langland II

Newcastle Silver Tankard 1798-9 a

The Langlands family were the largest manufacturers of silver and silver plate in Newcastle. The Langlands manufactured silver for over 60 years with John Langland II taking over the business following his fathers death in 1795. John Langland II died in 1804, but his widow Dorothy Langland maintained a flourishing business right up to 1814.

This particular tankard is beautiful. It carries the hallmarks for Newcastle 1798-9 and the makers mark for John Langland II. It is a presentation tankard, and was further engraved with a lovely ornate pattern in approximately 1867. Along with this pattern there is an inscription for a Mr Matthew Bernard, who apparently served as Treasurer of the Sir Colin Campbell Lodge of the Odd Fellows Friendly Society for 9 years. It seems that the lodge met at the Crown Inn, Rochdale Road, Bury, Lancashire, this English pub is still, after all this time, serving beer. I wonder if Mr Bernard celebrated receiving this tankard by quenching his thirst with it on the day of it’s presentation?

Newcastle Silver Tankard 1798-9 c

The tankard is in a lovely antique condition, however there are one or two tiny indentations in the body and the hallmarks and makers mark on the main body are rubbed but legible

The Tankard weighs just over 300g and is 5 inches high. It is currently for sale via our Ruby Lane shop.

The Doulton Biscuit Barrel

Every antique has its own history, and that history is often linked to the history of the region of origin or the manufacturer. A nice example is a lovely Doulton Burslem Biscuit barrel with silver plated mounts and decorated with the Doulton Persian Spray pattern. This particular item screams about the history of a small pottery maker Pinder Bourne and how Pinder Bourne became incorporated into what is now known as Royal Doulton.

Doulton Burslem Biscuit Barrel 1886-1891 a



A lovely Doulton Biscuit Barrel decorated with the Doulton Persian Spray pattern dating to between 1886 and 1891. This item is currently for sale via our Ruby Lane shop

Pinder, Bourne and Co was established at the Swan Bank Works, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire in around 1848 by Thomas Pinder. They manufactured a range of earthenwares. By 1851, the company had moved to Fountain Place Burslem and the company name changed to Pinder Bourne and Hope. The company moved yet again to Nile Street, Burslem in 1860, and once again changed its name to Pinder Bourne and Co in 1862. In 1877, Henry Doulton was offered the opportunity of becoming a partner in Pinder Bourne and Co for the princely sum of £12,000, however Doulton and Pinder did not really get on very well, partially because the company wasted the £12,000, and matters were only resolved via arbitration. Pinder retired and Henry Doulton took over the firm, changing the company name to Doulton and Co. Pieces dating from about this time represented a mix of artistic influences, many of the old Pinder Bourne patterns were retained, but re-branded. For example, the Doulton Persian Spray pattern seen on our biscuit barrel was actually the Pinder Bourne and Co Pomegranate pattern.

At about the time of the Doulton takeover, John Slater the Pinder Bourne art director persuaded Doulton to expand into china as well as earthenware. The range of items produced increased incredibly and Doulton produced a vast array of figurines, character jugs, vases, and decorative wares. The products became steadily more popular eventually coming to the attention of King Edward the VII who granted the Royal Warrant that allowed Doulton to incorporate a crown into their back-stamp giving rise to what we now know as the excellent pottery company Royal Doulton.

The Apprentice Chest

The apprentice chest describes a miniature chest of drawers, traditionally believed to have been made by an apprentice cabinetmaker to demonstrate their skill. This is quite a romantic notion, and in many cases quite correct. However, so called apprentice pieces may have been made for other reasons. A large chest of drawers made from mahogany or oak is a very heavy item. They were also quite expensive and cabinetmakers needed to find some way of attracting buyers from quite a large catchment area. Doing this by displaying examples of pieces of furniture in different locations would seem an obvious way to drive orders. Unfortunately, transporting heavy pieces of furniture long distances in potentially poor weather along poor roads could be quite hazardous to the individual and the stock. To circumvent this some cabinetmakers made miniature furniture that could be used by commercial travellers to drum up orders. This allowed a cabinetmaker to improve his order book by demonstrating his skill as a maker of fine furniture, whilst significantly reducing the risk to himself and his expensive furniture.

Apprentice chests can be found in a number of different forms, from the traditional two short drawers over two long drawer arrangement with bone escutcheons and small turned knobs (Figure 1) to more ornate pieces. Apprentice furniture is growing in popularity. Georgian apprentice chests can now reach prices in excess of £800. Consequently, good examples are becoming hard to find and sadly this particular piece has now sold.

Builth Wells Antiques Fair (4th and 5th of May 2013)

Come and visit us at the Builth Wells International Antiques Fair this weekend. Look for the above sign to find us and if you tell us tell us you saw it on WordPress, Pinterest or Twitter we will give you a 20% discount on any item or items on our stand. We will be  in Hall 2 Stand B10.Penrose Antiques sign

Happy shoping

Rachel and Morgan

Investable Silversmiths Part V: Exeter Silversmith William Rawlings Sobey

Following on from the Stone family silversmiths, William Rawlings Sobey (1811 – 1852) is another sought-after Exeter silversmith. Born in Exeter around 1811, his makers marks are registered from 1833 to about 1852. He was a contemporary of John Stone, and like John Stone, he manufactured spoons, (Figure 1) butterknives and other flatware in the Fiddler and Old English patterns. The 1841 & 1851 census returns show him as resident in All Hallows Goldsmith Street. The 1851 White’s Devonshire Dictionary lists his workshop as being at 1 Queen Street.William Rowlings Sobey William Rowlings Sobey

Unlike John Stone, William Rowlings Sobey was not folllowed by his son into the business. When William died in 1852 aged 41, he left behind 4 children. His only son George Ferris Sobey (b1840) was 11 at the time of his father’s death. George went onto become a solicitor in London. He married and had 8 children prior to his own death aged 46 in 1886.

After William’s death, his widow Elizabeth lived with their two youngest children Elizabeth Anne Sobey (b1843) and Fanny Lucy Sorbey (b1844) at St  James Place in Exeter. In the 1860s, Elizabeth Anne Sobey married William Borrough but she was widowed young. The youngest child Fanny died unmarried in 1871 aged 27.

For further details about the caddy spoon in Figure 1 contact

Investable Silver Part IV: Exeter Silversmiths John & Thomas Stone

The Exeter assay office was officially opened in 1700, and operated until 1883. In the 18th and 19th century Provincial was thought of as being inferior to the silver produced by the London silversmiths. How times have changed. Provincial silver is now very sought after, and pieces carrying the Exeter assay mark attract particular interest from collectors. This is pricipally because of the rarity of Exeter silver.

John Stone (1800-1868) was an Exeter silversmith. His assay marks were registered from 1825 until 1867. He produced mainly flatware items, such as spoons, butter knives, sugar tongs, often in the Fiddle pattern and Old English pattern (Figure 1).

John Stone Exeter Silver

John Stone is listed in White’s Devonshire Directory of 1851 at 30 New Bridge Street. The census returns show him resident at this address in 1841 and 1851. By 1861, John Stone appears in the census returns at 36 The High Street Exeter. The size of his workshop remains constant over this period, as he is shown as employing 6 men in all 3 entries.

John Stone had 3 sons and a daughter. He was followed into the business by his eldest son, Thomas Hart Stone. Born in 1838. Thomas appears at boarding school in West Teignmouth in the 1851 census. By 1861 he had joined his father in business, being listed on the census at 36 High Street. Thomas’ own assay mark was registered in 1863, and after the death of his father, John Stone in 1868, he took over the business and like his father, made silver flatware (Figure 2). Thomas married Frances Emily Rookes early in 1869, and the birth of their daughter Anna Matilda Stone was registered in Q4 of that year. The 1871 census shows him still at 36 High Street with his family and apprentice John Tyle. Unfortunately, Thomas didn’t long survive his father. He died in 1873 aged 36, and his apprentice John Tyle did not go on to register his own makers mark.Thomas Stone Exeter silver spoons

Investable Silver Part 3: The Silver Berry Spoon

The term berry spoon describes a spoon possessing a bowl that has been embossed with fruit, often berries, thus the name. In most cases the interior o the bowl was also gilded, so creating quite an attractive ornamental piece of silver. However berry spoon, have acquired a bit of a bad press. The problem lies in the fact that the vast majority of berry spoons didn’t start life as berry spoons, but were often plain spoons that were decorated at a later date (Figure 1). To some purist silver collectors this makes a Georgian spoon carrying a later berry decoration little better than a forgery. This is rather harsh because the Berry spoon has an important place in the history of silver flatware.

Georgian Berry spoon1

In the mid 19th century fruit was becoming steadily more available and the silver smiths of the day, ever with an eye to making a profit, designed the berry spoon to provide a decorative way of handling fruit.  The gilding of the bowl in this was all-important, for it protected the silver from the acidic fruit juices. By the early Victorian period some very fine silver berry spoons were manufactured, for example we have a lovely pair of heavy silver berry/preserving spoons manufactured by the excellent early Victorian Exeter silversmith John Stone in 1848 (Figure 2 – currently available for sale at our online Ruby Lane shop These spoons were true berry spoons designed and made for the purpose.

VIctorian Berry Spoons Exeter 1847

The demand for these new decorative items was high but the bespoke berry spoons would have been expensive. So many silver smiths met the demand for less expensive versions by taking earlier 18th and 19th century spoons and berrying them. This berrying of earlier Georgian and Regency spoons continued right into the 20th century. Hundreds of thousands of these later decorated spoons were made.

So how can one tell the rare bespoke Victorian berry spoons from those with a later decoration. Well, there are three things to look for: date, spoon pattern and patina. The date of manufacture is a really big clue. The bespoke berry spoons were made after about 1840, so a berry spoon with an earlier (Georgian, Regency, George IV) date mark will have been decorated at a later time. Spoon pattern, the true bespoke Victorian berry spoons had handles and bowls that had bespoke designs that complimented the berrying and engraving (Figure 3A), whilst the berry spoons carrying a later engraving tended to be of a simple patter, i.e. the Old English pattern (Figure 3C and 3D). Then there is the patina. The true berry spoons of the Victorian period will carry signs of the age of their finish in the form of small surface scratches (Figure 3A and 3B), those patterned at a later date tend to carry fewer surface scratches because the berrying is more recent and that berrying process to all intents and purposes re-finished the spoon.

Spoon Comparison

Needless to say the more desirable spoons are those that were originally made as berry spoons. These are getting very hard to find, and examples by good makers will attract a premium. For example, the Pair of John Stone spoons  shown in Figure 2 are currently for sale at £480. This brings us to the question of should the spoons carrying a later berry decoration be considered as fakes. Definitely not. The work of the original silversmith is still very evident, the later decoration is normally of a very high quality and is very much the product of a Victorian and later social trend. Thus these spoons with a later berrying carry as much historical and aesthetic value as the bespoke versions. Unsurprisingly the spoons that have been subject to later berrying are still very collectable  but fetch lower prices because they were made in significantly larger numbers. For example the William M Traies example shown in Figure 1 is for sale at £105.

Please contact us at for more  information on the spoons shown in this blog.

The Bronte Birth Place March 23 2013

Spring is here, the flowers are in hiding and snow is falling snow upon snow. We were meant to be antiquing at the Arley Hall Antiques Fair today, but the Great British Weather had something else in mind for us – about 18 inches of heavily drifting snow! So having risen early to go to an antiques fair and finding ourselves stuck we decided to go for a health giving walk instead. After trudging for what seemed like miles and having had to recover ourselves and the dog from man sized snow drifts a few of times we eventually made it into the local village, Thornton, whose name to fame is being the birthplace of the Bronte sisters. Thornton didn’t look as if Spring had sprung but it did look quite picturesque under a blanket of snow. See what you think.



Top – The Bronte birthplace, Market Street Thornton, Bottom left a lovely little farmhouse with a well, and Bottom right the cottages along Sapgate Lane, just round the corner from the Bronte birthplace

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