The Silver Standard
How One Collector Found an "Affordable," but Still Shiny, Niche in Precious Metals
From the Print Edition:
Orlando Hernandez, Mar/Apr 99
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He asked her if he stayed in London for an extra three days--for the silver of it--what would she recommend he do?
"One, go to the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert and look, look, look. Two, go to a bookshop and buy The National Trust Book of English Domestic Silver--1500-1900. Three, buy something."
There happened to be on the table where they were seated in the silver room at Frank Partridge's six candlesticks and two majestic candelabra made for Emperor Augustus II of Saxony in 1750. Morton said softly, "They are beautiful beyond imagining, looking like suspended silver and gilded clouds, superior works of art, fine discoveries, and to me they epitomize the glory of silver looking as if it's still molten."
"May I be permitted to know the price?" Stony asked hesitantly.
"That's exactly the way to start. Only £680,000."
"Time to get my feet wet. I'll buy them. In dollars that's only--around a mere million."
One can imagine that Stony Crowell never regretted his first plunge into the waters of silver collecting and that over the decades he probably assembled a truly historic collection of ancient and contemporary silver that, when donated to the museum at his university, might well have been worth more than two hundred million.
Thomas Hoving, a former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is the author of False Impressions: The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes.
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