My maternal grandfather, Sydney Bellamy Harman, died long before I was born but it was through listening to stories of his life as a dealer in silver and jewellery that I first began to think that I too would like to buy and sell silver. On the right of this page are photographs of Lambert’s in Coventry Street, London, where my great-grandfather, Walter John Harman, worked from the late 1840’s and of Harman’s at 177 New Bond Street, London, which was my grandfather’s shop. I was fascinated as a boy by old objects that I found around my grandmother’s house – the way they were made and the surface texture they had acquired through age. When I was eight, I was given a copy of Bradbury’s ‘Book of Hallmarks’, still the best pocket guide to British Hallmarks, and I much enjoyed being able to date pieces of silver using the book.
I read history at university and began dealing in antique silver in 1974. Most of my early career was spent selling to other dealers but I began to exhibit at fairs – in particular the Haughton’s annual Silver and Jewellery Fair in the Dorchester Hotel in London – from the 1980’s. I was influenced by two books written by the late Eric Delieb, ‘Investing in Silver’ (1968) and ‘Silver Boxes’ (first published in 1970). As a consequence, much of my stock could be described as small-wares: boxes of all sorts, wine labels, sugar nippers, tickets, prize medals and the like. But I also stock serving pieces and flatware for the table, tea and coffee sets, salvers, trays, goblets, cups and bowls. In fact, I sell whatever I think has a sufficient measure of quality and interest or is, perhaps, just curious. Not all of our stock is solid silver. We sell some Old Sheffield Plate, Victorian electro-plate, and 18th century silvered brass, known as ‘French plate’.
I now have a small shop in the London Silver Vaults, where some of my stock can be viewed. Although the shop is usually open through the week, I am not always there myself because much of my time is spent either sourcing pieces for stock, or researching the history of silver-smithing in London.
I look forward, through this web-site, to keeping in touch with all the clients that I have met over the years at fairs in Britain and the United States. An equal welcome is extended to new clients!