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The Discreet Luxury of French Regional Silverware

On 11 October 2021, by Anne Doridou-Heim

With this second sale, the success of the highly original silverware from Marcel Sztejnberg's collection continued unabated.

The Discreet Luxury of French Regional Silverware

Gabriel Mestre (master silversmith admitted in 1762), Bordeaux, 1775-1776, pair of silver shells imitating scallops, standing on three shell-shaped feet, handles in the form of coral branches, l. 13.2 cm/5.2 in, diam. 10.5 cm/4.1 in, weight 212.9 g/7.5 oz.
Result: €102,400

On February 4, 2021, the first sale consisting of 140 lots totted up €1,920,064 and garnered a preemption. The story now once more picked up the trail of fine silverware from the various areas in the huge Kingdom of France. This second auction, with nearly 170 items, made a total of €1,297,000, with yet another preemption. This was a wine cup from "Le Havre de Grâce" (between 1756 and 1768) which naturally went to the Normandy city's Musée d'Art et d'Histoire for a modest €2,560.
 

Extremely rare (and said to be the only extant French model of its time), this gilt travel set presented in its box fetched €32,000. The c

Extremely rare (and said to be the only extant French model of its time), this gilt travel set presented in its box fetched €32,000. The cunningly-devised item consists of a goblet, a cutlery set, a folding knife, a nutmeg grater revealing a corkscrew that unscrews to become a nutcracker, and a condiment box. It is very light, weighing 235 g/8.9 oz and standing 7.9 cm/3.1 in high. The Paris silversmith Jean II Villain (admitted as master in 1671) produced the kit between 1682 and 1683.

Marcel Sztejnberg's passion for fine workmanship guided him throughout his life as a collector, and this is what appeals to new buyers: they know there are hidden treasures in this trove, for which further sales are announced. One is the pair of silver shells imitating scallops (see photo) made in Bordeaux by Gabriel Mestre in 1775 or 1776. The port in the Gironde was then at the height of its prosperity thanks to trade with the colonies. The shell is actually more speaking as the kind of exotic piece sought after for cabinets of curiosities than for its religious connotations. The silversmith was inspired by a model of the famous Orloff service made by Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers two years earlier. After a modest estimate, the pair finally achieved €102,400. As with the shaker presented below (€112,640), their originality and age made an impact; sugar was also an exotic, luxury commodity. Another model of shaker (h. 24.3 cm/9.2 in, weight 547.8 g/19.3 oz) fetched €61,440. This was made in Chambéry between 1725 and 1751 but in the style established under Louis XIV, with molded gadroons on the foot. Form pieces from Paris also made a good showing: €38,400 went to a 1750-1751 baluster-shaped creamer-mustard pot with twisted sides by Michel Delapierre (admitted as master in 1737), €33,280 to a 1782-1783 soup tureen with wave borders on a matt background by Roch-Louis Dany (admitted as master in 1779), and the same amount to a pair of 1750-1751 candlesticks by master silversmith Alexis Loir.
 

The outsider of the collection, this silver bayonet shaker (h. 18.5 cm, weight 547.8 g), played its part well, taking first place at €112,

The outsider of the collection, this silver bayonet shaker (h. 18.5 cm, weight 547.8 g), played its part well, taking first place at €112,640. This cylindrical piece with a fine cord pattern border on the base, and a top pierced with fleurs-de-lys, bells and tulips, was hallmarked in Metz in 1692-1693 and attributed to David Bernard (1650-1733). It belongs to the great Louis XIV century of silverware.

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