(click on photos to enlarge image)
ANTIQUE SILVER CHAIRS IN MINIATURE
Research has shown that silver miniature chairs,
along with many other silver miniatures items, were made in
abundance in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), from 1725-75.
The first dolls' house was introduced into Holland from Germany
in the 17th century and this accelerated the demand of silver
chairs to furnish these small masterpieces of craftsmanship.
The main customers were the wealthy ladies of Dutch families and
there was great rivalry to furnish their dolls' house with the
best silver furniture and equipment.
Large dolls' houses had 12 rooms and all of which required at
least one silver chair.
The production of silver toys in Amsterdam increased to satisfy
the request internal and from abroad. The export of silver
miniatures from the Netherlands continues today, though the
numbers of silversmiths have vastly decreased.
A pair of 18th century Dutch, hand made silver
chairs. Height 65mm, weight 26g each (Author's
There are no hallmarks or import marks. This pair of
chairs has double stretchers fitted to the
undersides. This is a rare feature present on early
chairs from Holland. Pictures of this type of chairs
can be found in the book "Netherland Silver
Miniatures of 17th and 18th century" by John Endlick.
Text is in Dutch but the book is illustrated with
many pictures of chairs.
An 18th century, silver, handmade, Dutch four ladder
back chair with double stretchers. Height 73mm,
London import mark 1896 by David Bridge. Maker's
marks have been erased (Author's collection)
A selection of silver
chairs in various sizes. The tallest is a 'pin
cushion' chair by W.Cummings, 1902. Height 150mm,
Weight 100g. The smallest chair is 18 mm high (Author's
All the chairs bear the original owner's name,
registration number, hallmark and maker's mark.
Prices for rare chairs like these are rising fast.
Four special chairs (from left to right)
- Lord Alfred Tennyson by Levi & Salaman (1910)
- Edward II Coronation Chair (maker CD, 1901)
- Nelson's chair (maker Levi & Salaman, 1910)
- Charles Dickens chair (maker Levi & Salaman, 1910)
The majority of silver chairs manufactured in the Netherlands
were 60-70 mm in height. Yet a few examples were only 40 mm tall.
Owing to the narrow gauge of the metal most of the Dutch chairs
do not bears hallmark or maker's mark or are left unmarked to
avoid damages to the artifact.
Dutch chairs exported to the UK bear full sets of British silver
import marks. This type of hallmarking has been mandatory since
1867 and continues to be requested in present days.
In 1904 the familiar "F" mark used (1867-1904) in imported wares
was discontinued and replaced by the use of a new set of Assay
Office town marks. Sometimes, misunderstanding the meaning of
the import mark, less experienced dealers date the manufacture
of a piece by the corresponding date-letter of the import mark.
It may be happen that very old Dutch silver chairs, bearing only
British hallmarking, are traded as artifacts made in the UK in
the mid or late 20th century.
Ancient handmade Dutch silver chairs are easily recognised by
their irregular workmanship. Usually, the ladder back supports
do not match up as they have been hand cut and soldered in place.
In present days silver chairs are still manufactured in Holland
by skilled workers, but, unfortunately, no new design is
produced and most of the output is a mere replica the models of
the past. This is a pity, as today production presents high
levels of workmanship.
Silver chairs were made in Germany, mainly in Hanau, producing
items of exquisite designs. Most of Hanau chairs carry an
assortment of pseudo-hallmarks. These chairs are usually of fine
quality, though many of them have been mass produced and stamped
out by machine.
Miniature chairs have been produced also in other countries,
most of them with no hallmarks or makers marks.
Some of the larger ones have been adapted as menu holders.
Most of the chairs in my collection, are, as far as I am aware,
made of Sterling silver, except some of them which are of the
lower 800/1000 silver fineness.
Two fine examples of German
chairs and their marks.
A set of blue enamel silver chairs and table. No
hallmarks or makers mark. A set like this is rare to
Four chairs and a table made in Russia and sold on
The chairs and table are thin and of poor quality,
with no hallmark
Height 65mm, Weight 28 g each
Silver chair made in China in
1905 by Sing Fat and its mark.
Height 48mm, Weight 20 g each
Silver chairs can be purchased on eBay, in antique fairs and,
sometimes, in antique shops.
Good quality chairs are hard to find and expensive. Some of
these early chairs can be found at Sotheby's.
The majority of Dutch and German silver chairs appear to have
woven hemp seating, though simulated leather seating are
A Dutch silver miniature of a
tradesman weaving the seat on a chair with flax covering
Two spectacular Hanau silver armchairs, possibly mid 19th
century. They are stamped with nude nymphs and elegant figures
of ladies and gentlemen dressed in 18th century clothes. This
was a very common feature on decoration of German silver
Height 75mm, Weight 30 g each
A modern set of matching chairs and table with a cat on a chair
looking greedily at fishes on the table. On the right hand leg
can be seen a kitten playing with a ball. The silver has been
anodised to give a gold effect.
The set has British hallmarks, maker's initials SJR (possibly
S.J. Rose & Son), Birmingham 1973. Total weight 100 g.
Two large silver chairs fitted with red velvet cushions, so they
can be used as pin cushions.
The chair on the left was made by W. Cummins, 1902 and that on
the right was made by J & W Deakin, Chester 1902. Their weigh is
100 g. each.
A selection of Dutch ladder back chairs c. 18-19th century. It
is easy to see the irregularities in these handmade artifacts.
Some of them bear hallmarks.
An anodised silver throne, known in Italy as "Savonarola chair".
A recent author's acquisition
Four chairs from a set of six all with leather seats and back rests, with silver tassels front and sides. The country and maker are unknown. The style has been credited as being Art Nouveau, early 20th century.
In conclusion may I say that collecting silver chairs and
miniatures is a fascinating and profitable hobby.
A ready market to buy and sell them is the Silver/Miniatures
category on eBay.