Monday 21 December 2015


Ok, here it is, the final installment of our A-Z of Christmas gift ideas.
By now I should think most of us are running out of time and inspiration.
It is good to know that a gift in silver is something long lasting and will be treasured for years, and indeed, centuries to come. As timeless as Christmas itself.

Monday 14 December 2015


Ok, folks. It’s week two of our A to Z of Christmas which brings me to our next collection ideas for gifts in silver. We left off at the letter I, and so, here we go with:

Jam Pots… I think most of us probably will have more than a quick cup of tea and a bowl of cornflakes on Christmas morning. For some reason, it seems appropriate to have a full on breakfast (almost like a trial run for the big event). No reason the breakfast table shouldn’t look special too. A lovely jam jar to serve your favourite condiments in will certainly cheer things up.

Monday 7 December 2015


Here it is, December, and for those of us that haven't got everything wrapped up yet (you know, not one of those people who were,actually, nearly done in August) the hunt starts in earnest to seek out that perfect gift. It is to those people I will be presenting my A-Z of Christmas ideas, in silver, over the next couple of weeks.

Friday 27 November 2015

In the Library With a Candlestick?

Choose your weapon.
With winter nearly here and Christmas around the corner one thing is certain…. The board games in cupboards and closets up and down the country will be coming out again.
I know they say it nearly every year, but apparently, this looks set to be one of the coldest winters since our last coldest winter.

Saturday 14 November 2015

Curiouser And Curiouser

In case you hadn’t noticed, there has been a lot of talk about Alice in Wonderland recently.
This is due to the fact that 2015 marks 150 years since Lewis Carroll’s book about a young girl’s surreal adventures in a magical wonderland were first published.
The book, published on 26 November 1865, was titled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland but the original title was intended to be Alice's Adventures Underground.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Spy vs. Spy

This autumn we have seen the release of a new film in the James Bond franchise. Spectre is the 24th film to be released and the fourth time with Daniel Craig as The Man himself. The word on the street is that this will be Daniel Craig’s last time playing one of our most enduring  and invincible spies.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Hallo Again

Well, I suppose children up and down the country will be donning their outfits for Halloween once again. Along with the ghosts and ghouls and goblins I’ve a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of characters from Frozen this year too.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Animal Magic On Your Table

The dining room at Chatsworth House

With winter just around the corner, now comes the season of socialising and entertaining.
Before you know it we will be scrambling around in our lofts and cupboards in search of all the necessary bits we need to host the perfect party or dinner.

Thursday 15 October 2015

The Downton Effect

Just in case you didn't see the article in this week's Saturday Times , allow me to present it to you now.
Our very own Jonathan Franks and others,offer up a few words about the renewed trend for silver on the dining table. Check out the article and make some time to come down and check out for yourself, what’s on offer down here at the London Silver Vaults.
Remember, Christmas is just around the corner…..

Saturday 10 October 2015

Fancy a Fondant?

This might be a bit out there, but, is baking the new football?
This year’s  Great British Bake Off peaked at 14.5 million viewers which is considerably more than last years UK World Cup Final viewing figures of 12.1 million.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Borough Market. A Foodies paradise.

Not all that long ago, London, and the rest of the UK, had a reputation, as having some of the worst food in the world.
Having spent most of my life here in London in the world of food and drink, I know that this was
an unfair claim to fame.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Visit Us At Lapada Fair

Well, it is a busy time for us here at I. Franks as we prepare for our annual pilgrimage to
Berkeley Square for the Lapada Art & Antique Fair.
All systems are go as we plan and prepare to take our stand once again.

Friday 28 August 2015

Shake It Baby

An item most of us will have had at the beginning of our lives is the baby rattle. There isn't much that an infant can do to amuse themselves but, once they've got a grip, the baby rattle is the perfect solution to entertaining a tiny baby. They are claimed to help a child develop their hand eye coordination as well as stimulating their senses.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Those Golden,Olden Days

With vintage seeing a massive surge in popularity, the things we remember from our childhood  are often, these days, thought of as iconic.
As a youngster, trips to my grandparents house in the 1970s, would be a mixture of boredom and fascination.
The boredom came from having  such old fashioned things about, forcing me to watch my cartoons on some old black and white set and waiting an inordinate amount of time for my tea, which was prepared on a wood fired stove.

Saturday 15 August 2015

Happy Hours, Happy Days

Something that  always seems to  transport me to some imagined tropical island, is a nice girly cocktail.
I say girly , but I know plenty of men who are no stranger to the pina colada either.
In recent years, the cocktail has seen a resurgence in popularity and nowadays you would be hard pressed to even find a pub that doesn't offer up some kind of a cocktail list. This, to my mind, is not necessarily a good thing because there is an art to making a good cocktail. Sticking an umbrella into a glass does not make it a cocktail.
The cocktail industry is a serious business now and there are whole trade shows dedicated to the art of all things spiritual (do you see what I did there). According to market research, the UK alcohol industry is worth £38 billion annually. That means a whole lotta shakin’ going on.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Feeling Festive?

Well, we are now halfway through the festival season here in the UK. For once, for the most part, even the weather has been in our favour.
At Glastonbury, earlier this summer, the sun shone and just made the whole thing that little bit better.
With so many festivals now taking place each year here in the UK, there truly is something for everyone.

Saturday 1 August 2015


Sometimes I find myself wondering where particular words find their origin.
Now, I don't mean whether they are Latin based or Germanic etc, but my interest is in how things come to have the name they are given.
Having had my curiosity piqued, I decided to do a little research myself.
So, I present to you now, a little list of words you may not have considered were actually named after people. Who knew?

Saturday 18 July 2015

Dishing Up Some History

On the 20th of July 1588 the Spanish Armada set sail for England from Corunna and, as the
427th anniversary of this attempted invasion approaches, I thought I might tell you a little about
Armada dishes.

Saturday 11 July 2015


We are probably all familiar with the two bottle cruet set with a bottle each for oil and vinegar. You might also see the addition of a spot for your salt and pepper.
However, if you look around, you may stumble across a set that consists of several different sized bottles.

Saturday 4 July 2015

A Magnificent Beast

Here in our shop we come across some weird and wonderful things, and, this superb cigar lighter certainly counts as being one of them.
Many people ponder what it is when seeing it for the first time. What at first appears to be simply a bizarre sculptural piece turns out to have a practical use as well.

Friday 26 June 2015


Down here at the vaults the theme for our current exhibition is Antique and Contemporary Tea Sets. In the cabinets at the entrance to the vaults you will find on display tea and coffee items ranging from the old and highly decorative to the sleek and modern.
There is no denying that, here in the UK, we love our tea and
it is something the rest of the world sees as a very British habit.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Have you heard about the bird?

Down here at the vaults we have many things which are useful in the home but sometimes we offer things which have been made purely for decorative purposes.
Among these types of items, some of the most well loved, are the animal figurines.
Most often these will be realistically modelled wild birds and popular domestic animals such as dogs and horses.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

The King of Bling

Most of us, of a certain age, would recognise who that man behind the candelabra is; that would be Liberace, but where might that candelabra have come from?
Liberace perusing the goods of the Silver Vaults. Image courtesy of the LSV Facebook page
If you've ever been down to the London Silver Vaults and stopped to look at the photos in the foyer you might just have noticed a picture of a smiling Liberace with one of the shop owners, May Langford, back in 1956. Mrs. Langford's sons, our neighbours, continue to run the family business today.

Friday 8 May 2015

Nutmeg Grater

Since being discovered on the Spice Islands in the 1500’s nutmeg has been part of our culinary repertoire and at one time the cost per gram made it even more valuable than gold.

Though nearly always relegated to the baking cupboard now, its popularity at one time was such that there were special portable boxes made so that people could transport their own nutmeg with them. It became such, that no fashionable gentleman’s well equipped pocket was complete without one.

Friday 1 May 2015

Something New for Something Old

When people are browsing around in the shop I frequently hear words to the effect of “ oh we have one of those, I think it must be in a box somewhere”
Well, it’s time to think outside the box!

As the world moves towards upcycling and recycling just about anything, I thought this week I might consider other uses for items made in silver. As silver is so pleasing to the eye it makes sense to use some of the things you might have at home and, rather than consigning a beautiful item to the attic or the deep recesses in the back of the cupboard, why not give it a new life?

So, now is the time to have a good rummage around and resurrect some of those once loved and treasured items.

Thursday 23 April 2015

St George's Day

Do you know what today, 23 April, is?

If you're not sure, you are probably in good company. Apparently, only one in five of us will actually realise today is St. George’s Day.
Image via
To me that is quite a shocking statistic when you consider he is the Patron St. of England.

When prompted, we might be able to recall his feats against that mythical beast, the dragon, but for the most part we don’t really give him his due.

Friday 17 April 2015

A touch of nature in your home...

Today I wanted to feature an unusual item which might just catch your eye should you get down to the vaults for a look around.
Nature in design. Image via.
Found in many shapes and styles, its use might not be immediately obvious. People often ponder what these curious, yet charming objects might be.
Click through to read on and find out what it is...

Friday 10 April 2015

Stop the press! Enjoy the flavours...

One of the items we have down here that extracts (if you'll pardon the pun) some of the most quizzical looks, is the duck press.
Pressed duck being served at Paris’s La Tour D’Argent (Courtesy of La Tour D’Argent) Image via.
Invented in France in the 1800’s by a chef called Mechenet, it was a machine created to extract every bit of duckiness from your bird.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Easter Sweetness

Easter is looming and with most of us having a four day weekend it is a chance to spend time with family and friends. Of course, this is the most important time in the Christian calendar and our churches will see more visitors than at most other times of the year.
The Easter Bunny is a confusing and quaint character. Image via.
Once the religious observances are out of the way most of us will get down to the serious business of chocolate. Chocolate eggs, bunnies, ducks or just plain old chocolate.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Spring Forward

With the clocks going forward this weekend I look forward to the longer days we have ahead of us. There was a time in my life when I saw the clocks going forward as a negative; a stolen hour of my much valued sleep which I wouldn't get back until the winter was upon us again.
The banks of the Thames are a perfect place to enjoy London in the spring. Image via.
However, now the extra light at the end of the day is a joyous bonus to me and I don’t even notice the missing hour.

Friday 20 March 2015


1759: The year that the British Museum and Kew Gardens were established and Arthur Guinness began brewing his eponymous ale.

The Battle of Quiberon Bay, November 20 1759, depicted by Richard Patton. Image via.
I often find myself admiring this beautiful teapot when looking around here in the shop.
George III sterling silver teapot. Click here to view on our website.

There is just something so pleasing about its style and shape. This charming pot bears a 1759 Edinburgh hallmark and was made by Lothian & Robertson. With its chased rococo decoration and pineapple finial I am sure it must have been considered quite quirky for its time.

When I look at this pot and its dateline it makes me wonder about all the things that must have been discussed over those cups of tea throughout its 256 year existence.

Firstly, when you consider the size of this teapot, the reasons are obvious, historically.

The price of tea was incredibly expensive at that time and also heavily taxed. As a result teapots produced at that time tended to be smaller than today. This was not a drink for the poor among us. The result of this high cost would be smuggling, which only dropped the price a little. Did any of those illicit leaves ever find the bottom of this pot?
Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle and former Prime Minister. Image via.
In 1759 it was the Whigs in power and the Prime Minister was Thomas Pelham-Holles. Another event politically which occurred in Kent that year was the birth of William Pitt the Younger who, just 24 years later, would become the youngest, and some consider one of the best leaders in British History. He would also prove to be a champion amongst tea drinkers.

This pot was ‘born’ in Scotland in 1759 and shares a birthdate with Scotlands most famous son, Robert Burns who was born on the 25th of January.

Whilst sipping tea and reading through the journals of the day one would have found the newspapers filled with stories of the Seven Years’ War.

In order to distract from the bloody battles which dominated the news, perhaps a cup of tea was imbibed in the parlour whilst playing what was to be the first British board game, ‘A Journey Through Europe’.

This little pot would have been serving up the tea when the news came through of the passing of King George II in 1760 and the succession to the throne by his grandson, King George III.
King George II, by Charles Jervas. Image via.

I’m sure this pot was likely used to offer up tea while discussing events in what would soon become the United States of America in 1776. It boggles the mind that a teapot is actually older than the U.S.A.

And I’m sure that a few years later the owner of this pot raised his cup in celebration at the news in 1784 that the then Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, slashed the tax on tea from an outrageous 119% to a more reasonable 12.5 percent. Cheers William.

This pot probably remained with its original purchaser through many births, deaths and marriages before likely being passed down to the next generation. Obviously this pot has continued to pour out the brew through the birth of many more nations, through wars and peace times will most likely continue to do so in the future. A long history past, and a future of stories yet untold.

I’ll drink to that.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

The Best in Show? It must be Crufts...

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
-Henry Wheeler Shaw
Diva dogs and impressive silverware: last year's Best in Show. Image via.
It seems to me the Queen appears at her most relaxed and happy when you see her in country attire surrounded by her beloved corgis. This most royal pup was first introduced to the family by King George IV and the Queen has had corgis since being given one on her 18th birthday. Today she has more than thirty.

It is fair to say she is most definitely a dog person.

There is no doubt that here in Britain we are a nation of dog lovers as well and at no time of year does this become more evident than when Crufts is on.

Thursday 26 February 2015

The Mighty Monteith

What’s In a Name?

There are many things in our day to day lives which we just accept without thinking and I suppose words are among them. I doubt many even stop to consider why things are called what they are. Who names things?
Image via.
You may have a concocted moniker of your own or perhaps have a nickname bestowed on you as a child.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Xin Nian Kuai Le - Happy New Year

Thursday the 19th of February sees the start of the Chinese New Year.

Participants in London's annual west end parade. Image via Time Out.
According to the Chinese zodiac there is a cycle of twelve years with each cycle represented by a different animal.

2015 finds us in the year of the horned animal, most commonly considered The Year of the Ram, the 8th sign in the twelve year cycle. Alternatively, it is also sometimes referred to as The Year of the Goat or Sheep. People born under the year of each animal are said to carry certain traits of that particular animal so one can only surmise that sheep, goats and rams must share similar traits.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Love is in the Air

Time to break out the chocolate and flowers, for Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us once again.
Saint Valentine baptizes St Lucilla, Jaco da Ponte. Image via 
We have come to believe that Valentine’s Day dates back to ancient Rome. It is alleged that during the reign of Claudius, he was against men marrying during wartime, believing that single men made better soldiers.
Then along comes Bishop Valentine, obviously an old romantic, and performs wedding ceremonies in secret...

Friday 6 February 2015

Paul Storr

Following my post last week I thought I might take this opportunity to give you a little look at the man considered to be one of the finest silversmiths in history.

Born in London in 1771, Paul Storr was the son of Thomas Storr, who was a silver chaser himself.
His father was a skilled craftsman and that must have inspired young Paul to follow him into the trade.
Storr's famous 'PS' hallmark, along with the other identifying marks of an 1808 silver salver, made in London.
In 1785, aged just 14, he became an apprentice silversmith, working under the well known Swedish silversmith, Andrew Fogelberg.
Following a seven year apprenticeship under the guidance of Fogelberg, he became an accomplished silversmith himself.

Thursday 29 January 2015

A Mighty Crest

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might"
Ecclesiastes 9:10
Among many items I come across here in the shop, occasionally a crest or inscription will pique my curiosity.
One such item did just that very recently.

It is a family coat of arms engraved on to a Sterling Silver Georgian meat dish cover.
It is emblazoned with the phrase “Do It With Thy Might”.

My research reveals this to be the Buxton Family motto which had been engraved onto this particular piece of silver.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Burns Night

Lang May Yer Lum Reek.

This Sunday, 25th January, sees Scotland celebrating the birth of their nation’s favourite son.
This was the day in 1759 when Robbie Burns was born in Dumfries, Scotland.
Will you see out Burns night with a wild Ceilidh dance? Image via.
Best known as a poet, he wrote in the Scots language as well as standard English. Burns was regarded as one of the founders of the Romantic movement and as such became one of the great cultural icons of his nation.

Thursday 15 January 2015

The London Boat Show

If there were ever a trade show that will really show you how the other half lives then it must surely be the London Boat show. It is the world’s oldest boat show and is now in its 60th year.
A luxury yacht arrives for the 2013 Boat Show. Image via.
Sailing was once the preserve of the rich and famous but after the Second World War, small boats became available, making nautical pastimes possible for the middle classes as well.

Friday 9 January 2015

How to Turn Wine into Silver

Another year has passed and so begins 2015.
It is at this time of year that we consider what we might be able to do to improve our minds, bodies and souls.
After the excesses of the holiday season, even those of us who don't make resolutions will probably err on the side of caution for the next few weeks.
Image via
The trend for Dry January seems to attract more participants every year. Though I don’t actively make it my resolution to give up the drink in January, I do find the desire to snuggle up in my pyjamas is greater than any trip to the pub might be.