Antique silver from the 18th century and earlier includes some of the finest, rarest and most desired objects in today’s marketplace. Many fine objects made at this time have not survived as quite often, in both Europe and the East, worn or damaged objects would be melted down and re-fashioned into something new. Sometimes, the same would happen simply because fashions had changed. Oriental and Islamic craftsmen have a rich heritage dating back thousands of years. These objects influenced European-made goods and were known to and valued by the European market as far back as the Middle Ages. The master silversmiths of the east employed and perfected different techniques and styles of ornamentation. Bidri ware from Mughal India, fine silver gilt filigree from China, niello decoration, combining precious metals combined with ivory, gemstones, mother of pearl and tropical hardwoods. The cultural influences civilizations exerted upon each other are so complex and tangled they are often hard to follow and impossible to chart, but long before the great maritime trade between East and West existed, merchants and traders would transport small quantities of objects from east to west and west to east to delight and entice their customers with variety and innovation. These new ideas and designs slowly spread further, strange and wonderful objects were admired and cherished, creating interest in their place of origin and respect for the craftsmen who made them, eventually penetrating deeper and influencing the styles and fashions in the foreign lands in which they had arrived.
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