ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
Members' Window # 95
by Alan Yates
(click on images to enlarge)


silver cufflinks, London 1994: original on the right, reproduction on the left silver cufflinks, London 1994: original on the right, reproduction on the left

While on holiday in England a number of years ago I bought a lovely pair of modern cufflinks the sole decoration of which was the hallmarks.
However, I lost one so I asked a goldsmith friend if he could recommend anyone who could copy the remaining one for me.
He took away the survivor and returned a few weeks later with a new pair.
He had made them himself by preparing a silicone mold and pouring in molten silver.
The great surprise for me was that the copy was almost identical to the original including the leopard head of the London Assay Office hallmark (dated 1994).
I agree that comparing the two pieces an expert eye can detect the difference between the original and the fake hallmark. Perhaps just as well that no one can make out the identity of the original maker (GL or CL).
But I'm still wondering.... faking small silver objects would be so relatively simple?
Silver cufflinks: reproduction on the left and original on the right
It has been interesting for me to be able to compare the silver available in South Africa, where I spent most of my life, and Austria, where I have lived for the last five years.
In South Africa one can find silver from literally all over the world, whereas in Austria it is almost all only from here, Germany, Hungary, or what was Czechoslovakia.
While in South Africa I began, inter alia, my modest collection of Indian colonial silver, but being a silver-bug I also collected silver bits and pieces from anywhere and everywhere, including a set of four beakers (82 mm high, total weight 350 gms) which are used every day in the home and have survived remarkably well.
They have a series of hallmarks and Sterling underneath and I suspected that their origin was Greece or Cyprus.
The little "mystery" about their origin was solved when Giorgio Busetto told me that they were made in Florence (Italy) by the well-known silversmith Brandimarte.
The firm was founded in 1955 by Brandimarte Guscelli who opened a small workshop in Via Ponte di Mezzo, Florence where he designed, made and sold his works.
In 1957 the firm moved to Via del Ponte Sospeso and in the 1970s the activity employed over 100 workers becoming one of most prestigious Italian brands.
In 1974 the factory was transferred to Via Bartolini where the activity was continued until 2004.
Brandimarte Guscelli died in 1994 and the business was succeeded by his sons Stefano and Giada who continue to manage the successful activity of the firm in present days.
sterling silver beakers made by Brandimarte, Florence: hallmarks
set of four sterling silver beakers made by Brandimarte, Florence
sterling silver beaker made by Brandimarte, Florence

Alan Yates
- 2012 -