Absolutely gorgeous & rare antique French Louis XVIII, Charles X to Louis Philippe era .800 (nearly sterling) silver bladed dessert, luncheon or entremet sized knife set with elegant ebony or ebonized wood handles, silver inlaid carthoche and seashell style silver caps & collars! This was actually a set of eighteen, one has gone missing over their 200 or so years of existence leaving only 17pc so we just rounded down to a complete service for sixteen :). A elegant as can be, very French with the black & silver, the blades are all hallmarked and date them between 1819-1838. The caps & collars on the handles bear no hallmarks but they're also silver of course. The blades all bear the French "Socrate" or Socrates and "Hercule" hallmarks, the both narrow the date of manufacture to those above and also designate them as being in .800 or better silver content (at least 80% pure so just under the .925 standard for "sterling" silver). The slightly lower silver content is quite common in knife blades, giving them added strength over pure sterling which would have more of a tendency to bend due to it being a softer metal. There are two different silversmith marks among the blades, what appears to be "DA" and "NB" but I've not been able to find reference in our guides, perhaps the works of apprentices? In any event, the set is simply stunning AND they're kept in the original tooled leather storage and/or presentation case or box. Fabulous!
Very good to excellent condition. A very faint 'push' to the sterling handle caps possible, I've shown enlarged detail photos so you can see that if there is any, it is quite subtle. No bends or damage to the blades though there might be a tiny nick here and there. As noted, the set would originally have had 18pcs but only seventeen remain. A few of the silver cartouches are slightly raised at the pointed tips, you don't notice that until polishing them though when the sponge might catch. They're affixed to the handles themselves with pins surely so no real danger of any popping off. The box is somewhat aged but not nearly as much as you would expect given that it and the silver set are around 200yrs old. Clasps at the sides of the box appear to be not working so a third in the center was added at some point. See pictures for measurements.
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