Francis Higgins - Judaica: English Antique Sterling Silver Gilt and Lapis Lazuli Dessert, Fish or Fruit Service, London, 1873/74 bearing the crest of Sassoon
This stunning service consists of 12 gilded sterling knives and forks with shaped lapis lazuli handles in the original fitted leather box.
The set of forks have three tines and are decorated along the shaft and ferrules where the handles are fitted.
The area above the tines is engraved with a crest and motto which is written in Hebrew.
The knives are equally stunning with blades decorated on both sides with a scrolling motif with flowers.
One side of the blades bears the hallmarks while the other side is engraved with the crest and motto of Sassoon.
The handles to this set are stunning. They are carved with canted corners and exhibit magnificent coloring and striations throughout.
Francis Higgins ran a very fine London silversmithing firm that specialized in flatware. The high quality of his work is reflected by the fact that most of it was sold retail by Garrards and Hunt & Roskell, both royal jewelers. Legend has it that Higgins, a quality fanatic, used to go around the shop inspecting quality and reminding employees 'it should last for more than a lifetime'.(1)
Sassoon David Sassoon was granted his arms by Queen Victoria in 1862.(2) He died in 1867 and these were likely owned by his son, Joseph. The family owned an ancient manor house, Ashley Park, in Surrey and were related to an extended family of bankers and merchants in the Levant and Bombay.(3)
Ashley Park, Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, in the 1820's when owned by Sir Henry Fletcher from whose family it was purchased by Sassoon David Sassoon.
This rare set is fully hallmarked on the blades of the knives and tines of the forks. The knives measure 8 inches to 7.75 inches long and the forks measure 7 inches to 6.75 inches long. They are in very good antique condition retaining their original gilding. Some of the handles have been professionally polished to remove chips at the end and are a bit shorter.
John Culme, The Directory of Gold & Silversmiths Jewellers & Allied Traders 1838-1914, (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 1987), p. 230.
Albert M. Hyamson, Ed., Anglo-Jewish Notabilities: Their Arms and Testamentary Dispositions, (London: The Jewish Historical Society of England, 5709-1949), p. 120.
Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, (London: Burke's Peerage Limited, 1939), np.