Norwich silver spoon to stir up sale

A rare example of Norwich silver – a seal top spoon made in the city during the reign of Charles I – comes to auction in London this month. At the sale of Silver and Objects of Vertu at Chiswick Auctions in London on June 11, the spoon made by the patriarch of the famous Haselwood silversmithing dynasty, is expected to bring £2,500-3,500.

An antique Norwich silver spoon

For many years the largest city outside London, Norwich had its own silver assay office date letter system during three periods from 1565-1701. The city was much admired for the quality of its output – some of it on a par with that produced in London– but by the 18th century production had slowed and silverware made in the city was sent for marking elsewhere. As so much was melted down in the Georgian era, relatively little has survived.

This spoon with its fig-shape bowl has the Norwich town mark, the date letter for 1640 and the maker’s mark for Arthur Haselwood I (1593-1671), the founder of a family of silversmiths that prospered for three generations from around 1625-1740.

The end of an antique Norwich silver spoon

Pieces by the maker are very rare. In his book East Anglian Silver 1550-1750, Christopher Hartop records “[no] more than a dozen pieces, including four items of church plate, survive from the elder Haselwoods’ workshop”.

His son Arthur Haselwood II was the husband of Elizabeth Haselwood (1644-1715), who is today celebrated as the only woman silversmith known to have worked in the city. She proved successful in a male-dominated trade, taking over the workshop in 1684 and continuing to trade under her own name well into the 18th century. She and her husband are buried in the same tomb in St Andrew’s Church, Norwich.

The hallmarks on an antique Norwich silver spoon

Chiswick Auctions has a strong reputation in this collecting field having identified and sold several pieces of East Anglian silver in recent years. In October 2020 a previously unrecorded Charles II beaker made in Great Yarmouth by Thomas Hutchinson took £7000 while a trefid spoon by Arthur Haselwood II made £4750 in October 2022.

John Rogers, head of Head of Silver & Objects of Vertu expressed his delight at being able to offer another piece of Norwich silver. He said: “The spoon is in excellent condition, has brilliant marks and the engraved initials TB over WB with the date 1639 that denote the original owners.”