Antique Valuations



lapadaSafeGuard and The Birmingham Assay Office are approved Service Providers to LAPADA – The Association Of Art & Antiques Dealers

The SafeGuard Independent Jewellery, Watch and Silverware Valuation Service is privileged to have several members of its experienced valuation team who are experts in their field and have a passion for antique jewellery, silverware, medals, coins and regalia.
craig o'donnell

Craig O’Donnell is one of SafeGuard’s expert team of valuers who specialises in Jewellery, Watches and Antique silver. He has a BA degree in Fine Arts Valuation. Craig is currently undertaking the valuation of the private silver collection belonging to The Birmingham Assay Office. 

There are many antique pieces among the tens of thousands of articles valued by SafeGuard every year.
The team of valuers assess anything from cocktail and pocket watches, diamond rings, antique gold as well as silver candlesticks, tea sets, trophies and even Mayoral Chains. Valuing these items presents a very different challenge from those modern items which are immediately replaceable from the High Street.

The condition of the item and the fashionability of the brand or maker affect the value. The customer benefits from having a photographic record of the item and a Valuation at either Antique Replacement Value or Period Replacement Value, and the reassurance that SafeGuard will retain all the details on their secure database in case the paperwork is lost.

Craig says “We do see a very wide variety of items and we have a few regular customers who seem determined to set us a challenge. A while back I valued a Haida Indian Argillite totem pole, a fabulous seventeenth-century rosewater dish, a Hester Bateman tea caddy and an Arthur and Georgie Gaskin necklet, amongst many other things. Working for SafeGuard means that every day is different. We never know what we will be presented with next!”


Craig O’Donnell is currently undertaking the revaluation for insurance purposes of the Silver Collection at The Birmingham Assay Office. Craig sees this as a labour of love.

The Birmingham Assay Office Silver Collection houses many pieces of historic Birmingham silver, with at least one piece for each year since the establishment of The Office in 1773. Here are a few objects from the Collection, typical of Birmingham manufacturers that showcase the enormous wealth of talent possessed by the city’s silversmiths through history.

candlesticksPair of Tapersticks - Boulton and Fothergill, Birmingham, 1776
Matthew Boulton inherited his father’s business at Snow Hill in the 1750s, but he was determined to expand his range. A highly ambitious man, by the early 1760s, he had started work on the Soho Manufactory, located just outside Birmingham, at Handsworth.

Silver was a major part of production at Soho, and these tapersticks demonstrate the skill of the team that Boulton gathered together at the manufactory. They are based on a design by James Wyatt, a well-known architect of the late 18th century.

dishDish and Cover - Boulton and Fothergill, Birmingham, 1777
This elegant dish and cover is typical of the neo-classical style associated with Matthew Boulton and the Soho Manufactory. It is the simple, understated decoration in evidence here that makes Boulton’s work so appealing to modern taste.

Casket -  Birmingham Guild of Handicraft, Birmingham, 1900
The architect, Arthur Dixon established the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft in 1890. The objectives of the Guild were to reinstate hand-craftmanship, and to resist the demands of the market whilst keeping an eye on the principle of profit. The casket on display bears the mark of the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft for 1901, and it is truly exemplary of the simple, uncomplicated lines of Arts and Crafts style

tea set Tea Service - Bernard Cuzner, Birmingham, 1937
From 1910 until 1942, Bernard Cuzner was head of the metalworking department at the Birmingham School of Art. In his work, he adhered to the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, and in 1935 he published A Silversmith’s Manual, which he based on his teaching and lectures at the School of Art. Made in Britannia silver, the tea service shows his work to be extremely fine. Britannia silver is a higher standard of silver than sterling, containing 958.4 parts per thousand of silver, compared to 925 parts per thousand in sterling silver. If you would like more information on the Antique Silver and Jewellery Valuation Service that SafeGuard can provide please contact us. SafeGuard can provide independent valuation services direct to Auction Houses, Antique Centres, Antique Retailers and Individuals.

Snuff box - Nathaniel Mills, Birmingham, 1838
Nathaniel Mills was known as one of the most skilled box makers in Birmingham.  On the lid of the snuff box is a relief of Chantry’s memorial to James Watt in St. Mary’s Church, Handsworth. This was the first piece acquired for The Birmingham Assay Office Silver Collection. It was bought by the Assay Master between 1894 and 1899. It was exhibited at the British Industries Fair, London, 1933, 1936, and 1939.

Trowel -Thomas Prime and Sons, Birmingham, 1876
This is the ceremonial trowel that was presented on the occasion of the memorial stone being laid at The Birmingham Assay Office in 1877. The blade of the trowel is engraved with the following the image of the Anchor, the Birmingham arms and the motto ‘Forward’ and a view of The Birmingham Assay Office.
The words ‘Presented to Samuel Buckley, Esq. J.P. on the occasion of his laying the memorial stone of the Birmingham Assay Office, 14 July 1877. By A.B. Phipson, F.R.I.B.A. architect’.

trowel 73

Spoon - Florence Stern, Birmingham, 1901
Silver and tourmaline.
The spoon has a hammered bowl, a lyre-shaped finial set with a tourmaline.
The spoon was purchased from Miss F. Stern of Birmingham on 13th March 1902 for £1 5/-.

spoon 144 spoon - close up

Vinaigrette -  Joseph Willmore, Birmingham, 1820.
 This vinaigrette was purchased from J.W. Caldicott of Birmingham on 19th February 1903 for 10/-.
It was exhibited at the British Industries Fair in 1933, 1936, and 1938. It was also exhibited in the Matthew Boulton and the Toymakers exhibition, 1982.

Taperstick with match holder - Elkington, Mason & Co, Birmingham, 1844
Made from Britannia silver and parcel gilt,  on the underside the taperstick bears the relief device Elkington & Co. Electro Dep. with a crown, a monogram and the registered design mark for August 1844. It is a hollow electrotype, based on a Roman lamp, and was designed by Benjamin Schlick. The design is similar to an engraving in Piranesi’s Vasi, Cadelabri…(1798)
The taperstick has featured in The Silversmiths of Birmingham and Their Marks by Kenneth Crisp Jones (1981) and in Victorian Electroplate by Shirley Bury (1971).


 Fruit Bowl - A. Edward Jones Ltd, Birmingham, 1973.
 The dish bears the mark for the bicentenary of The Birmingham Assay Office in 1973.
Engraved on one end of the dish are the arms and motto of The Birmingham Assay Office, on the other end, the arms and motto of the British Jewellers’ Association. On the rim of the dish is engraved ‘Presented by the British Jewellers’ Association to commemorate the bicentenary of The Birmingham Assay Office 1773 – 1973’.


On the base the dish is marked Edward Jones Ltd., St. Dunstan Works, Birmingham
Designer M.I. Berry Silversmith , J.G. Butler Engraver S.B.J. Perkins, Polisher T.A. Griffiths

silver collection visitsFor more information about organised tours of the silver collection please click here. 
or on the image to the right

If you would like more information on the Antique Silver and Jewellery Valuation Service that SafeGuard can provide please contact us.

SafeGuard also provides independent valuation services direct to Auction Houses, Antique Centres, Antique Retailers and Individuals.

1 Moreton Street, Birmingham, B1 3AX

Call us on 0121 236 2122 or

contact us here.

Office hours are  Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm

You can Trust Our Old Fashioned Values .......
Taken from Latest news / 24.07.08

If you want to know the real value of a piece of antique jewellery, watch or silverware talk to the experts at The Birmingham Assay Office. An advertising campaign aimed specifically at the antique and second hand trade has been developed to highlight the complete service provided by The Birmingham Assay Office to this growing and important market. The service includes: metal testing and analysis, hallmarking, diamond grading and gem testing through to expert independent jewellery, watch and silverware valuations and assessments.

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