Today I’m delighted to share with you an Antiques Diva Interview with world-renowned silver expert Jacob Roosjen.
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You are one of the leading experts of silver in the world – could you tell me a bit about your background?
At a very young age I developed an interest in silver objects which I happened to see in our home, in museums we visited and in church. Initially I was trained as a silversmith, mastering the techniques. Apparently, this was not enough for me. The history of the objects, the maker’s marks, the styles, the provenance appealed to me, so eventually I decided to specialize in this area. Some 20 years ago, after I had become a registered appraiser (valuer) in Silver and Jewellery, Sotheby’s asked me to join the company. I have been working as a Director of the Silver department for this international auction house until recently.
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And now you’ve gone into private practice – could you tell me what services you offer in your business?
Yes, I have my own company and I started the Silver Research Institute. As a registered appraiser in Silver and Jewellery, I do valuations for private persons, companies, museums, insurance companies, auction houses etc. Other aspects of my work are advising clients, giving expertise, a second opinion and writing reports about specific objects after research. I am also a dealer now, for I buy and sell silver items in particular. Recently, I was asked to teach a group of interested people, who are already in the trade, about maker’s marks and different styles. And last but not least I can do restorations, but they can be very time consuming. In the past I built up an extensive collection of books on the subject and my files are huge, which is very helpful now.
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Rumor has it you’re going to be exhibiting in April at Holland’s AFSH (Art and Antiques Fair in Den Bosch). I’m certain you’ve set the antiques world a tremble – certainly Europe will feel that Ali Baba’s cave has been opened to the public. Could you tell me about a few of your pieces you will offer at the fair?
I’ll be one of the participants of the Art and Antiques Fair in ‘s Hertogenbosch from 18 till 25 April. I used to be a member of the vetting committee of this fair, but this year I will be a participant. To give you an impression of the items that are for sale: a pair of Dutch silver biscuit boxes, an 18th century silver tobacco jar, silver candlesticks, a silver filigree casket containing three tea boxes, 17th century silver scissors cases, and an Olympic silver beaker, which can be used as a vase!
It sounds oh so diva-worthy! Last year Ben Janssens, Chairman of TEFAF’s Executive Committee, said: “There is no evidence that the jittery financial markets have discouraged art buyers and in fact the reverse seems to be true. Visitors said to me that they see no point in investing in stocks at the moment and prefer to put their money into art and antiques.” Does this same hold true for silver? Would you say silver is a good investment in these times of economic peril? If so, why?
Investing in silver objects is definitely more glamorous than investing in stocks and shares, which did not so well lately. The silver market is a rather stable market. I’m sure you know that silver, like gold, has an intrinsic value too. Apart from that, you can enjoy your purchases by placing them on your table or displaying them in a cabinet. Although there are still people who want to put their purchases in their safe straight away and save them for “a rainy day”.
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Now, I must admit – I love the shine of silver, but I always find silver a tad intimidating. As a silver expert, what would you tell novice buyers to look for in determining quality in silver? Are there any “starter” pieces you would recommend for someone wanting to dip their toe into the silver world?
Indeed, go for quality, I’d advise you. This does not mean that you should go for the most expensive items. The rarer the items, the more expensive they will be. But a good set of candlesticks, handmade preferably, or a nice basket which you can use, is a start. You can always sell them, for there will always be a market for such items. There are people who look for certain masters and select on maker’s mark only. There are others who collect Dutch or English silver only. Some collect antique miniatures, others teapots from a certain era. A myriad feathered flock, these silver buyers. Don’t hesitate to asks experts, like me, for advice. There is a lot to learn and a lot of information to share.
Jacob, I am so honoured you’ve taken the time to do this Antiques Diva interview! Each time we’ve spoken you’ve wowed me with your knowledge & expertise. Do you have anything else you’d like to tell Diva-Readers about you, your business or this upcoming antiques fair?
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Why not come and meet me at the Art and Antiques Fair in ‘s Hertogenbosch? Check the website for details. You can also visit my websites for further details about me www.jacobroosjen.com and www.silverreseachinstitute.com. Both websites are still under reconstruction, but the essential information is on them.
The Antiques Diva™
P.S. To Read past Diva Posts on the sensational art and antiques fair Jacob Roosjen was talking about click here!