Antique 19th Century Chinese Export Silver And Mother of Pearl Abalone Butterfly Dish Pair AF Circa 1880
This is a beautiful pair of abalone shells with real silver applied butterflies to both their front and their reverse. This wonderful pair were most probably made in the Canton area of China around the 1880's specifically for the export market. They are so expertly made and SOOOOOO decorative that we were instantly smitten. Sadly they are not signed but we can guarantee that they are 100% silver. This style of applying silver to mother of pearl and abalone was popular in China at this period, silversmiths such as Luen Wo and the famous Wang Hing were the market leaders in the art form.
Each 4.25"by 2 6/8" by 1" dish is made from a wonderfully substantial abalone shell. Each shell has a depth of rainbow colors that you can only find in very good quality, antique abalone...they just glow. The applied silver butterflies are equally fine with chased detailing to their wings and bodies; and we just love their curly antenna. Each shell has a total of six silver butterflies front and back.
Condition - Sadly this pair are not pristine, they are 'as is'. Both have sustained damage; one more so than the other. Please study our many images where we clearly show the damage. One has a hairline crack running diagonally across nearly its entire width, this can be seen from both front and back ( it is only a hairline and it has not been broken in two). This same shell dish has a piece missing of its narrower tip and a little piece of silver missing to a butterfly on the underside ( we wonder if the Chinese maker's mark was here as it appears to have been cut away). The other shell dish has fared a little better but is not without its faults. It has a few minor nibbles around the edge and a larger chipped edge to the left side of its narrower tip. However, their patina is warm and smooth after 100 plus years and one cannot help but adore them!!
An adorable pair that we can imagine on display in your bedroom or even your bathroom.
Abalone and Mother of pearl are always interlinked aren't they but to be correct; Abalaone refers to a specific ear shaped seashell, whereas mother of pearl (nacre) is only the iridescent lining that several mollusks create to line the insides of their shell.
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