A rare silver spoon, designed by Josef Hoffmann the Austrian architect and designer who co-founded the influential Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna, has sold for thousands in a Staffordshire sale.
The century-old spoon, made in circa 1910, sparked an international bidding war to climb above its pre-sale estimate of £800 to £1,200 to sell for a hammer of £3,600.
Silver expert at Hansons Auctioneers Victoria Sheppard said, “It was a fantastic find – a very exciting piece. It was an honour and a privilege to sell it. You would normally expect something like this to crop up in New York or London – not the Midlands.
“The spoon was so sought after because Josef Hoffman was a founder of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna workshops), a production community of visual artists in Vienna, Austria. It brought together architects, artists and designers working in ceramics, fashion, silver, furniture and graphic arts. Their work is highly desirable today.
The spoon was found in a Midlands home by Steven Bruce, a valuer for Hansons. “As soon as I saw it, I thought it was something special. I thought it could be a Wiener Werkstätte and that proved to be the case.
“The price achieved is exceptional – treble the estimate. In 2011, a Josef Hoffmann teapot sold for €25,000 (£21,372) but this may be a record for a Hoffman spoon.”
Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) is among the most famous architects and designers of the Art Nouveau period. He joined Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Maria Olbrich and others to establish the Vienna Secession in 1897. Later, he collaborated with Koloman Moser to found the Vienna Workshops.
Hoffmann was awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize for Architecture in 1950 and important institutions around the world have continued to exhibit his work since his death at the age of 85 in 1956.