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Victorian English Antique Sterling Silver 'Fiddle, Thread & Shell' Pattern Service for 12 by George Adams, London, 1842-58

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This is a rare, large service in a fitted period box. Known for their superb flatware, the shop of George Adams produced beautiful cutlery of the highest quality. This stunning service is in the famous Fiddle, Thread and Shell pattern due to its shape and decorative elements. The handle design is repeated on the back where there is an extra shell at the base. An engraved crest of a unicorn rising from a ducal coronet is engraved on each piece.

This service, built up over time - a practice not uncommon then, was mostly purchased in 1842 and significantly expanded in 1850 with a few additions included later. Most likely it was significantly larger than this and broken up during the 1860-90 period for an estate when it was fitted to this box. Hunt & Roskell, whose retail mark survives on the rare original carbon steel blades, was the successor business to Paul Storr and one of the finest jewelers and silversmiths in Europe. They probably retailed the entire service.

John Samuel Hunt was Paul Storr's nephew. Working for him as early as 1810 as a chaser, Hunt ultimately took over Storr's business upon his retirement in 1838. For most of the 19th century the firm, styled as Hunt & Roskell, kept its shop at 156 New Bond Street. In addition to being silversmiths and jewellers to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Hunt & Roskell exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 (The Crystal Palace Exhibition), and the International Exhibitions of 1862, 1867 and 1872.(1)

George Adams is generally regarded as the finest flatware maker of Victorian England.

The service comprises:

12 Dinner Forks (8-1842/43, 2-1850/51, 1-1854/55, 1-1856/57)
12 Dinner Knives (1850/51)
12 Luncheon Forks (7-1842/43, 5-1850/51)
12 Luncheon Knives (1850/51)
12 Table Spoons (9-1842/43, 3-1850/51)
12 Tea Spoons (1850/51)
12 Dessert Spoons (7-1842/43, 5-1850/51)
2 pc. Game Carving Set (1850/51)
2 pc. Roast Carving Set (1850/51)
1 Stuffing/ Platter Spoon (1842/43)
2 Sauce Ladles (1857/58 John Samuel Hunt "Hunt & Roskell")

The total weighable silver (less the knives) is 154.10 troy ounces. This 91-piece service is in a fitted contemporaneous oak chest and is in excellent antique condition.


  1. John Culme, The Directory of Gold & Silversmiths, Jewellers and Allied Traders 1838-1914, (Woodbridge: the Antique Collector's Club, 1987), Vol. 1, p. 245.