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It is believed that silver, which is a shiny and white metal was first used in BC 4000. The first product made from silver which reached today from the ancient times is a ring. this ring which is preserved in Beycesultan (Denizli) was inherited from the Copper Age (Chalcolitic Age). Mildenhall Treasure which is found in the British Museum in London is the oldest silver treasure known today. This treasure which was inherited from the 4th century BC was preserved by the sandy soil of Suffolk without being deteriorated and was found in the 1940’s. Ornaments, jewellery, vases, arrows, weapons, money and other metal adornments from silver and gold were made in the Ancient Greece and Italy. In the Trojan region, certain silverware and golden belongings were found within the scope of a rich treasure inherited from 2000 BC. Production of silver belongings ornamented with embossment which started with the Roman Empire in the 4th century BC continued until the collapse of the empire. After the emergence of Christianity, silver started to be used particularly in churches in the Byzantine period. We encounter these belongings inherited from this age particularly in Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, Cyprus and Russia. The control stamps which are thought to be the onset of hallmark were first seen in the 6th and 7th centuries. At this period, Constantinople (İstanbul) was one of the most important centres in terms of silverware production.   


Silverware produced in the middle age was melted in order to cover the war expenses of the kings and the noble class, and was used for silver coin production. At this age, silverware was produced mostly for the church. In the 13th century, silver started to be used in a number of households in Europe. In the 15th and 16th centuries, a spoon set of 12 pieces called the “Apostolic Spoons” started to be produced. These spoons of which the grips were ornamented with apostle figures became popular as gifts for baptism. In the 16th century, when Henry the 8th who was the King of England conflicted with the Catholic church, he locked into a monastery the significant silverware of the time. Afterwards, English silver makers started to produce silverware to everyone who could afford the products. Hence, silverware products diversified. In the 17th and 18th centuries, silver was widely used in Europe. Silver cups were made for beverages which gradually became widespread such as coffee, cacao and tea. People started to use forks. With a technique developed in Sheffield in the 18th century, artisans managed to cast metal with silver. As the hardware made with this technique was cheap, public use of silverware became more widespread. With the usage of machinery in silverware production in the 19th century, hand workmanship was almost forgotten.

In the 11th century and particularly the 12th and 13th centuries, Turks used gold and silver for the ornaments made by inlaying technique on jewellery and certain belongings and tools. Mosul which became a significant centre for silverware production after the 13th century was quite improved in this field. The dragon headed brass pitcher with bulged casing and silver and copper inlaying which is found in the Louvre Museum in Paris is among the most beautiful examples of Mosul art. İstanbul which was among the culture and art centres of the time became the centre of silverware in the 16th and 17th centuries and continued to be an important centre until the end of the 19th century. Silverware called “Savatlama” gained importance particularly in the Caucasian cities and Van. “Savatlama” which was made by the technique which involved embroidering lead on silver and levelling up the embroidery with the surface of silver used to be applied on almost all kinds of hardware.     

While inlaying and “Savatlama” gradually lost their significance in the Ottomans, hardware produced directly from silver gained importance. Among the silverware produced were plates, trophies, pitchers, basins, vessels, braziers, candelabras, inkwells, stoups, jugs, Noah’s pudding bowls, coatings, mazarines, hubble-bubble casings, rose water flasks, censers, teapots and cup holders. In addition, silver jewellery such as bracelets, ear-rings, necklaces, rings and combs were widely produced. Silver was also used for the ornamentation of whip grips, back of the mirrors, belt buckles, horse saddles and other draw gear.

We can see the best examples of silverware in silver belts which were widely used in Anatolia and İstanbul. These belts were generally made by a production and ornamentation technique called filigree. In filigree making, thick silver wires are cut, folded and welded for obtaining the desired shape. Hence, filigree belts ornamented with figures became the most elegant examples of the Ottoman silverware. 

 One of the most important examples of the Ottoman silverware is the silver handiworks on hammam clog. The surface of the clog made by carving durable trees was casted with silver, whereas some examples were ornamented with precious stones. In certain clogs, however, embossed silver plates were used, similar to the ones used for belts.   

Today, we can come across silverware examples which still maintain their traditional styles, as well as those carrying modern patterns

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