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A VICTORIAN STERLING SILVER HIP FLASK
In this page is illustrated a Victorian solid
silver hip/spirit flask assayed in Birmingham in 1896. The maker
silversmith is Berkeley William Fase & Co
(note 1), operating at 50,
Oxford Street, London. It's a flawless solid silver container of
excellent workmanship, beautifully polished and virtually
scratch free, properly outlined to match the curve of the
wearerís hip or thigh (note 2).
- Birmingham 1896 -
This heavy gauge silver flask bears a rare slide-off fully
gilt-lined silver drinking cup in excellent condition. The open/shut
system of the flask is activated by turning 180į the bayonet
hinged lid and a cork seal on its inside prevents liquid's
This hip flask measures 132 mm (with the lid) by 72 mm, is 24 mm
deep and weighs 186 grams. It has a fine traditional shape with
a fully gilt-lined mouthpiece and a lovely smooth finish.
The front is nicely engraved with the initials of a former owner
(twined together "gothic" letters JM)
This object is a good example of the Arts & Crafts style. The
name and address of the manufacturing silversmith "B.W. Fase &
Co. London 50 Oxford St." is stamped in full on the base of the
The hip flask carries clear English silver hallmarks for
Birmingham 1896, with the "anchor" (Birmingham assay office
-horizontal for pre-1900-), "lion passant" (sterling silver),
date letter "w" (year 1896) and "B.W.F & Co in a cartouche" (sponsor's
mark of B.W. Fase & Co)(note 3).
It is hallmarked on the front of the flask, on the front of the
cup and on the neck. The hallmarks on the cup are slightly
rubbed, due to over-polishing, but still quite readable and
guarantee that this is the original cup for the flask.
The overall condition is excellent, without splits, repairs and
leaks. Nasty knocks or dents are absent. This is an exceptional
and fortunate circumstance as 19th century solid silver flasks
are often dented or damaged. Only some light scratch line is
present where the cup pushes onto the bottom of the flask.
The gilt-lining around the mouthpiece and inside the cup is
still intact and of great effect.
(1) Berkeley William Fase was the successor
to Robert Lewis, silversmith and jeweller at 22 Oxford Street,
London. Robert Lewis took Berkeley William Fase as a partner,
although the business continued to trade under the style of
Robert Lewis both then and after the dissolution of their
partnership on 17th December 1841. Fase took control of the
business at 22, Oxford Street and gave it his name in the
1850ís. He is listed there in 1867 as a jeweller and silversmith.
The firm later moved to 50, Oxford Street, London, where
Berkeley William Fase & Co is listed until after 1916.
(2) The hip flask began to appear in the form recognised today
in the 18th century and was initially used by members of the
gentry. Antique hip flasks, particularly those made of silver,
are now sought-after collectorís items. Nice to know is the fact
that the Royal Air Force used "hip flask" during the World War 2
as a code name for a revolver.
(3) Mark entered in Birmingham in 1896. Two similar marks, but
not identical, were registered on 3 February 1879 at the London
- 2008 -