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“Silver Threads Among the Gold…”

Updated: Feb 16


So goes the title of a 19th century song.


A Chinese export porcelain example of silver threads among the gold is this armorial plate made for the Dutch market circa 1750. It bears the arms of the De Wendt family. The history of this service is described in Kroes, “Chinese Armorial Porcelain for the Dutch Market at pp. 320-321.


Of pertinence is the decorative band on the cavetto. In the first photo it appears to be black. The second and third photos show that, after much delicate polishing, in fact it is silver.


I acquired the plate because of the beautiful rococo armorial, notwithstanding the unbecoming black band. On further inspection I noticed that, when viewed in a certain light, a pattern was evident below the blackened surface.


I remembered a series of articles by Shirley Mueller, listed below, discussing silver decoration on Chinese export porcelain. The gist of these was that between 1735 and 1760 silver decoration was used on a limited number of Chinese export porcelain armorial services and that many of these were Dutch.


Having searched the internet for other pieces from this De Wendt service, I found that most of the pieces illustrated were decorated with a similar band in gold rather than silver. However, I did find pair a pair of plates auctioned at Freeman’s in 2014 with this silver band (although the description did not note the silver decoration).


My guess is that some of the plates in the service were decorated with gold bands and others with silver to create a unique service for an important Dutch merchant family.


References:

Mueller, “Surface Silver Decoration on Chinese Export Porcelain: A Survey”, Oriental Art 47, no. 3 (2001).

Mueller, “Surface Silver Decoration on Chinese Export Porcelain: An Analytic Approach”, Oriental Art 48, no. 4 (2002).

Mueller and Bunney, “A Chinese Export Porcelain Mystery Solved Using Intensive Surface Analysis”, Ceramics in America (2016).


R.J. Ruble

Ericsson Street Antiques

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Bravo! Wonderful presentation and reflective of the drama of discovery we all hope to have in our treasure hunts. Your ability to research the background of the pattern, the other pieces from previous auctions, as well as the history of the period add so much to the appreciation of a lovely plate. The only thing missing is the inclusion of the "fleur-de-lis" which normally suggests a link to the French Royal family. DeWendt is Dutch, of course, so maybe another story still lurks in the shadows. Thanks again for sharing your deep involvement in this fascinating world of antiques.

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