Thai silver tea kettle bid to triple estimate at Leicestershire auction

Thai tea kettle – £13,500 at Sutton Hill Country Auctions.

An exceptional example of Thai silversmithing has sold for £13,500 (plus 17.5% buyer’s premium) in Leicestershire.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell

Thai tea kettle – £13,500 at Sutton Hill Country Auctions.

The 10in (26cm) parcel gilt and enamel octagonal tea kettle came for sale at Sutton Hill Farm Country Auctions of Broughton Astley on July 19 from a London estate. It probably dated from the 1850s-60s.

Thai silver is often overshadowed by better-known genres of silver from other parts of Asia. Pieces are sometimes catalogued as Chinese export– particularly as some (such as this) were made by emigre artisans working in Siam and have Chinese character marks to the base.

The niello (phra pin klao) and associated enamelling techniques are thought to have been introduced to Thailand either by the Portuguese or the Persians.

Niello in particular blossomed during reign of King Rama III (1788-1851), a champion and patron of Thai decorative arts, and became a speciality of the southern Thai city of Nakhon Si Thammarat. The subject is amply covered in the recently-published book Thai Silver and Nielloware (2019) penned by collector Paul Bromberg.

Items of this quality – chased with interlocking cotton rosemallow blooms and enameled in green and blue – were typically commissioned by members of the extended Siamese royal family. Some of those that made it to the west were presented as diplomatic gifts.

This tea kettle has some solder repairs to the feet but of paramount importance to buyers was the perfect condition of the green and blue enamel. Interest came from a wide range of Far Eastern buyers before it sold to a buyer with a Bangkok address well above the estimate of £2000-4000.