Silver objects in the V&A range from a third-century Roman ointment pot, to a sixteenth-century Mexican perfume burner, to a table centrepiece created in 2012 by Miriam Hanid. The Museum holds the National Collection of English silver, and has strong collections of European silver, particularly from Spain and Germany. Among these objects are some extraordinary survivals. An English incense holder and censer made around 1325 for the monks of Ramsey Abbey were discovered in the mud of a drained lake in Huntingdonshire, while an exquisite frame made for Louis XIV of France is the only surviving work of royal goldsmith Pierre Germain.
The Sacred Silver Collection
The V&A's collection of objects used in worship is vast. The Sacred Silver collection comprises objects made for Christian worship (Catholic and Protestant, from Britain, Europe and beyond). It also features a small but significant collection of Judaica (objects used in Jewish worship). The collection dates from early medieval times to the present day.
Silver Objects by Paul de Lamerie
Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751) was the greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century. His success lay in his exceptional powers of invention and creation, but also in his ability as a businessman, retailing some astonishingly spectacular silverware from his own workshop and also using the best external suppliers in the trade.
The Marlborough Ewer and Basin
These spectacular pieces are of supreme importance, for their historical connections, their superb quality and their rarity. Marked 1711-12, they were made by Elie Pacot, a leading French goldsmith for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, one of Britain's greatest military leaders.
The Rosalinde & Arthur Gilbert Collection
The Rosalinde & Arthur Gilbert Collection of gold, silver, mosaics, gold boxes and enamel portrait miniatures was given to the nation by Sir Arthur Gilbert (1913–2001) in 1996. The collection was on display at Somerset House, London, from 2001 until 2008 when it was transferred to the V&A Museum, South Kensington, London.
Silver in the Archive of Art & Design
Holdings relating to silver design and production are among the earliest records in the Archive of Art and Design. As well as pattern books, order books and ledgers, there are also designs, sketches, photographs and correspondence documenting the histories of several well known firms and individuals.
Video: Creating a watchcase
This fascinating short film reveals the pre-automated craft of watchcase making, involving the creation of tiny hinges and fine mouldings using a bow lathe and other techniques. Martin Matthews is an internationally renowned craftsman and goldsmith, and the fourth generation of his family to be expert in making watchcases. Matthews uses tools similar to those that his ancestors used over 200 years ago.
The Metalwork collection contains over 45,000 examples of decorative metalwork, silver and jewellery ranging in date from the Bronze Age to the present day. It includes the national collection of English silver, an outstandingly comprehensive jewellery gallery, and collections of ironwork, continental silver, arms and armour, medieval champlevé and late 19th-century enamels, brasswork, pewter and medieval metalwork of international importance.