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Matthew Boulton Rare George III Antique Sterling Silver Telescopic Candlesticks, Birmingham, 1812/13

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This is the first time we've had the pleasure of selling telescopic candlesticks in sterling. We've had a few pair of Antique Sheffield Silver plate examples, but sterling ones are incredibly rare.

These magnificent candlesticks are by the famous silversmith Matthew Boulton. They function by turning the top socle which raises and lowers the height of the candlestick. These unusual candlesticks are 'A type of candlestick... to suit the needs of the user when writing, sewing, etc. and to maintain the same height for the light as the candle burns down'.(1)

A picture below shows a spiraling chamber for which the upper section fits into and raises and lowers by turning the upper section.

The domed stepped bases have reeded decoration. Applied bands decorate the top and bottom of the stick and also the base of the flaring socle. The removable bobeche are original and also incorporate complimentary line decoration around their edges.

Matthew Boulton (1740-1806) was an entrepreneur and important maker of decorative arts. As partner of James Watts, Boulton financially backed the invention of the steam engine in 1770. He then became the first important maker of antique Sheffield plate. Hiring the important designers of his day such as Robert Adam and James Wyatt, he made fashionable accessories that appealed to the highest levels of English society.

These exceptional sterling candlesticks are fully hallmarked on their bases and on their bobeche. Also marked on the bases next to the marks are the original weights of '32.12 pr' which indicates these are an original pair and over 200 years have lost very little silver. The sticks measure 5.75 inches high when lowered and 7.25 inches high when extended, weigh a combined 32.10 troy ounces and are in very good antique condition with a couple minor dings on the columns.

  1. Harold Newman, An Illustrated Dictionary of Silverware, (London: Thames & Hudson, 1987), p. 321.