AC have an exceptional variety of antique sterling silver bowls, ranging from grand centrepieces, Monteith bowls, jardinieres and sugar bowls.
This large collection of silver bowls features pieces from all over the world, with bowls crafted during the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, as well as some twentieth century vintage items.
Our selection is comprised of exceptional examples of antique silver, all of which are the finest of their type that we have come across.
These pieces can function in a variety of ways- from consumption of food and drink to being the centrepiece of a formal dining table.
All of the bowls at AC Silver come with free and insured worldwide shipping and a 14 day return policy.
A bowl is a container that has been utilised throughout history for the preparation and serving of food and drink. Bowls are round dishes, with spherical, hollow interiors. The edges and bottom of a bowl form a seamless curve. The form of a bowl makes it ideal for holding liquids and loose food. The exterior of a bowl is most often round.
Society has utilised bowls for millennia; the oldest discovered is 18,000 years old. Throughout history, remnants of silver hollowware have been found in tombs worldwide. In contrast, there is a distinct lack of flatware found in these excavations. This suggests that unsurprisingly finding a container for one’s meal was a first priority for ancient civilisations.
Unearthed artefacts prove that silver has been a popular material for crafting bowls for many years. Bowls in this form have been found from societies such as the ancient Greeks, Etruscans, Egyptians, and Romans.
Another widely used technique for crafting bowls was pottery. This was particularly popular in ancient China and Greece. Elaborately decorated Chinese bowls can be found that date to the Neolithic period. In South Asian cultures, the bowl is still the typical form of vessel off which food is eaten, and on which it is served. Historically, small bowls were used for both eating and drinking. The Greeks utilised a wide variety of bowls. These included small items such as phiales and pateras, and bowl-shaped cups called kylices.
As time progressed so did craftsmanship skills; this is evidenced in the materials that bowls were made from. More durable materials such as silver became commonplace, as well as glass and silver-plate.
Different styles of bowl have also evolved throughout time, as a reaction to the needs, tastes, and trends of various cultures and societies.
There are many techniques for crafting bowls, ranging from pottery to woodwork. Antique silver bowls were likely crafted using one of two techniques (a process which didn’t vary much from region to region).
A silversmith would ‘sink’ silver by hammering a sheet of silver into a form the model of which was often carved from the stump of a tree. They would hammer around the edge of the form and move towards the centre of the sheet in slow circles. This method meant that ‘sunk’ bowls were often thicker on the bottom than the sides, although this did stabilise those with round bottoms.
Once this had been completed, the silversmith would follow with planishing. Here, the outside of the ‘sunk’ or ‘raised’ surface would be smoothed with a planishing hammer. This could then be followed with polishing or burnishing.
In an example of bowls appearance changing due to trends at the time, it was fashionable in the Arts and Crafts period to avoid disguising the work of the silversmith. So craftsmen would often not bother planishing their work.
There have been many different types of bowl produced throughout its lifetime. These differ based on date, purpose, and many other factors. Bowls have played a distinct role in society throughout history, as they have been utilised in religious ceremonies, cultural events or as markers of class. Some examples of different types of bowl include:
The Monteith bowl has long been considered a bold statement piece and is perhaps one of the oldest recorded items of silver produced. This item originated circa 1680 and was originally used to keep glasses cold- being filled with ice water to maintain the chilled temperature. Examples would usually be crafted with a removable scalloped rim. As high society evolved and upper class social events began to thrive, these items became a necessity and were used at buffets and before dinners. Soon after, in order to give the Monteith bowl a dual use, a detachable collar was added to their design. This meant that the base still kept its original use (cooling glasses) and the new detachable rim was used for serving punch.
It is believed that the word ‘punch’ is derived from the Hindu word 'panch', meaning 'five'; punch was originally made using five ingredients: spirit, sugar, lemon, tea or spices and water. There is deliberation, however, between this origin story and one which states that the word 'punch' may actually come from the Old English word 'puncheon' - a cask that held 72 gallons, which could be cut down and converted into a punch bowl.
Punch was first introduced to England around 1650 and shortly after, the popularity of the punch bowl, used at this point to serve spirits, rocketed. This drink became so popular that specific 'Punch Houses' were established in the 1690s, in which punch could be served hot or cold. We can find references to punch and spirit drinking from literature of this period; most notably in works by Shakespeare and Milton. Despite its popularity, spirit drinking became a crime by the mid-18th century. Satirical cartoons such as 'Beer Street.' and 'Gin Lane' illustrate the disorderly drunkenness that swept the nation and resulted in the banning of spirits.
The name Monteith is derived from the name 'Monsiur Monteigh', although little is known about him. It is unlikely that he had anything directly to do with the production of the bowls, instead he was known for singing in taverns; for his large character; and for his unconventional cloak. Monteith bowls were originally created with a shaped or notched upper rim. The emarginated rim allowed for a punch ladle, tall glasses, or lemon strainers to be held by the bowl.
The traditional silver Monteith bowl was copied in other materials such as brass, pewter, copper, porcelain, pottery and glass. They were in production form the 1680s to the early 1700s, but after 1725 they were only made occasionally to order for special events.
1680s-1690s: In the early days of production, the decoration of these bowls revolved around Chinese ornamentation. They had a fixed rim and often featured chinoserie chasing, a popular style during this era. Many of these early designs were said to depict Chinese civilisation, however they most likely illustrated fictitious events.
1690s-1700s: By this time, lobel panels connected with spiral flutes became popular design features on Monteith bowls. This style was thought to be associated with the Van Vianen family who were utilised this type of design on their Dutch silver in the 17th century.
Early 1700s- Oval lobel panels rose in popularity around this time, soon followed by the totally fluted bowl. Central cartouches came into play and were often ornamented with coats of arms. It was also at this time that detachable collars began to feature. In addition, fluted design was seen as a standard for silver in the 17th century. Their style fell neatly in line with the elaborate Rococo era. Their decorative nature signified the movement away from purely utilitarian silver drinking vessels. They were celebrated for their decorative design, one of the many reasons that they are highly sought after today.