Norwich's Hidden Treasure: Exploring the Colman Collection of Rare Silver

Norwich's Hidden Treasure: Exploring the Colman Collection of Rare Silver

We are delighted to offer a collection of Norwich 17th century silver assembled by one of East Anglia’s best-known families as a part of our upcoming 13-14 June Fine Interiors Sale. The 12 very rare pieces come from Bixley Manor, the estate of businessman Sir Timothy James Alan Colman (1929-2021) and his wife Lady Mary Colman (née Bowes-Lyon), niece of the Queen Mother.

2 May 2023

The great-grandson of Jeremiah James Colman (1830-98), the man who turned Colman’s Mustard into an international brand, Sir Timothy began his career on the shop floor of the Carrow Works in Norwich. However, in 1957 he became a director of Eastern Counties Newspapers – a company his ancestor Jeremiah Colman (1777-1851) had co-founded in 1844 – and was chairman of the group from 1969-96. He played important roles in establishing the University of East Anglia and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts while, as a skilled yachtsman, he claimed the record for the world's fastest yacht on several occasions.

Collecting East Anglian works of art ran in the family. His grandfather Russell James Colman (1861-1946) assembled the collection of Norwich School paintings, watercolours and drawings that now hangs in Norwich Castle Museum.

Many of the pieces of silver in the June 13-14 sale formed part of an exhibition of East Anglian silver held at the museum in 1966. Norwich silver is particularly sought after as the city’s Assay Office closed 1702. While some ecclesiastical wares such as communion cups and patens were preserved in Norfolk’s old churches, relatively few secular silver objects bearing the city’s mark survived.

Five spoons and two beakers in the collection carry the mark EH for the remarkable Elizabeth Haselwood (1644-1715). A member of the Haselwood family of silversmiths that prospered for three generations from around 1625-1740, she took over the workshop when her husband Arthur Haselwood II died in 1684. Then aged around 40, she ran the business – a large concern – until her death in 1715, probably hiring other smiths to complete the work.

A good Charles I East Anglian provincial silver seal-top spoon (£2,500-3,500)

As the only woman silversmith registered in Norwich in the 17th century, Elizabeth Haselwood’s work features in both the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Royal Collection. On offer here are five trefid spoons with marks ranging from 1675 to 1697 (estimated at £500-800 each) and plain beakers marked for 1688 and 1697 that are guided at £2500-3500 apiece. Back in 2007 Sworders sold a cannon-handled basting spoon by Elizabeth Haselwood, Norwich, 1697 for £4600.

A William III East Anglian provincial silver engraved beaker (£2,500-3,500)

Charles I silver seal top spoons by Elizabeth Haselwood’s father-in-law Arthur Haselwood I dated 1640 and 16423 have guides of £1,500-2,000 and £2,500-3,500 with the remaining three pieces all by Thomas Havers (c 1647-1732). A one-time mayor of Norwich, he was the maker of a handsome William and Mary tankard marked for Norwich 1691 that carries expectations of £4,000-6,000.

A preview of lots to be offered in the sale can be viewed here

To discuss a valuation or find out more about our upcoming 13-14 June Fine Interiors sale, please contact | 01279 817778 




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