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Silver Basket

  • King Charles Spaniel




    It seems you can learn something new every day.  The lesson we have learnt today at the Silver Basket is that a King Charles Spaniel is certainly not a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  The two dogs are entirely different.

    King Charles Spaniels, often known as the toy spaniel have a much more distinctive domed head with wide notsrils and their bite is slightly undershot.

    king charles spaniel

    Their eyes are large, dark and wide set. The pads on their feet are fused, well padded and feathered with a cat’s paw shape.  The King Charles is slightly smaller than the Cavalier being between 8 and 14lbs as opposed to 12-18lbs.  Like the Cavalier they can be ruby, tricolour or black and tan, their coats are long, silky and straight and their tales are short.

    The Cavalier Spaniel, by comparison has a much flatter head between the ears. The jaw, unlike the King Charles, is strong with a good scissor bite.  Their paws are well feathered and compact.   It too, has a long, silky coat.

    Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

    Both dogs are friendly and good tempered although the King Charles Spaniel is a little more reserved.  A Cavalier can easily become a nervous dog however.


    King Charles Spaniels originated from 1600s and were very fashionable with ladies of the Court in Tudor times as companions and lap and foot warmers!

    Up until 1928, when the title of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was drawn up, there was little definition between the two breeds, but it would seem that, over time King Charles Spaniels were being bred to adopt the shorter nose and domed skull.

    In the 1920’s breeders began on a mission to return to the longer nosed, flat headed King Charles that were portrayed in the pictures of Charles II of England.  The result was the arrival of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Apparently after World War 2 only six Cavaliers survived and all dogs to this day can be traced back to these original six!


    We have looked long and hard at our little King Charles Spaniel and decided that he could, most likely be a Cavalier King Charles.

    Silver King Charles Spaniel

  • Silver Swan

    The Bowes museum near Barnard Castle, Cumbria houses the most intriguing swan to date.  The large silver swan at the Silver Basket is pretty impressive, particularly the version with the golden beak but the articulated silver swan on show at the Bowes Museum over-shadows all.

    The mechanical silver swan was made in 1773 by John Joseph Merlin, a famous inventor in that era.  The swan is life-sized and controlled by 3 clockwork mechanisms.  When wound up he springs to life.  The neck turns this way and that with suprising dexterity, appearing to preen its back and catch and swallow fish in a silver stream to the front.  It is a sight to behold.

    The swan was taken to the Parisian exhibition in 1867 where it caught the attention of Mark Twain.


    ‘I watched the Silver Swan, which had a living grace about his movement and a living intelligence in his eyes – watched him swimming about as comfortably and unconcernedly as if he had been born in a morass instead of a  jeweller’s shop – watched him seize a silver fish from under the water and hold up his head and go through the customary and elaborate motions of swallowing it….’


    According to the British Museum the automated swan is the finest example of its kind and ‘one of only two of its size in and importance in the world.’


    The silver swan available  from us here at the Silver Basket is not, unfortunately mechanical, but it is nonetheless a real beauty and make as most beautiful wedding or silver 25th wedding anniversary gift.

    silver swan

      It stands at 26cm and is highly detailed and crafted with precision.  The swan is available with the golden beak on request and the price is just a little higher.  For a smaller token of love we have a miniature silver swan, 5cm in height, it is petite but equally as well executed.

    silver swan miniature

  • Autumn Deer

    The warmth of summer is passing and the splendour of Autumn is upon us with the warm red hues of the falling leaves and the smoky grey skies of October and November. If you are close to a wooded area and find the time or the inclination to get up early, just after dawn you may just see autumn deer on the move.

    hinds - silver basket

    If you are persistent you may even witness the annual deer rut that happens in the Autumn months.  At this time of year stags are strutting and bellowing; proving themselves to be the biggest and the best to the hinds.  The stags attempt to gather a harem of female deer and drive other competitors away.

    The actual locking of antlers occurs much later in the rutting season when up and coming stags recognize the alpha stag growing weaker from posturing, mating and shoving.

    After assessing and strutting around the alpha stag and his harem, the younger stags will engage him in antler to antler combat.  Steer well clear at this point and keep all dogs on leads.  There is an awful lot of testosterone about !

    deer- silver basket

    Stags thrash around in the undergrowth, catching vegetation in their antlers in order to look bigger and more menacing.  They also play at strategy games; the highest stag on the hillside has the advantage.  All this is done purely for mating rights.  Once the rutting season is over stags and hinds more often than not live separately.  The females and their young form a unit, the calves suckling for 3 – 4 months and the female calves remain with their dam and her group.  Young stags leave after a year or so and join bachelor groups.

    I always think a silver stag makes a fabulous, worthy gift for the groom, grooms men or best man at a wedding after a bit of bonding and posturing on the stag night!


  • Silver Animal Christening Gifts













    silver-horse-miniature-8129The beauty of presenting these intriguing miniature silver animal christening gifts is surely that they are not put away for posterity – they can be out on view whilst the baby grows through childhood into adulthood.  Silver Christening Gifts are often bought, given and received and then put in the back of a drawer or cabinet to collect dust and tarnish.  The gift is of course most welcome and generously given but has no real purpose.


    These little animals make a marvellous arrangement, whether in a child’s bedroom or on a shelf in a study, lounge or hallway.  Their high sheen and intricate detailing makes them very appealing and an excellent talking point.


    They begin in price at £68 – an affordable price for most godparents.  The following early birthdays and Christmases of their god child can be celebrated with a new addition to the animal menagerie; too often the early birthdaysof a baby boy or girl are marked by fluffy gifts that the child may cherish or just as easily disregard.  It seems much more rewarding to buy a gift that will increase in value and form a nice little valuable silver collection for the years to come.

    Equally as attractive are our range of vintage style, traditional sterling silver animal teething rings and rattles featuring silver bears, silver elephants and rabbits. Both sterling silver and silver plate options are available.  Each rattle or teething ring comes with an attractive dark blue, hinged presentation case.


  • Why choose a silver panther animal?






    Our resident  silver panther animal is a very popular and sort after cat.  He is a magnificent  53cm in length and not for the faint hearted! silver panther animal - silver basket Being made from highly polished, hallmarked sterling silver he makes a dramatic centre-piece and talking point for any home or office.  He seems to represent power, success and independence whilst remaining sleek and simple in appearance.


    But what actually is a black panther?  Firstly it is not a species in its own right – it is an umbrella term that refers to any big cat with a black coat.  The black colouring comes from a surplus of melanin and an animal with this condition is known as ‘melanistic’.

    silver panther animal - silver basket

    This pigmentation is most common in leopards and when faced with a panther (not too close!), it is often possible to spot the tell tale leopard spots underneath the dark coat.  From a distance however, they just look like a solid black animal and impressive at that!  Interestingly, lions and tigers cannot obtain dark coats and become panthers.


    To the spiritual souls the black panther represents courage, valor and power.  The panther is the symbol of the mother, the dark  moon and power of the night.silver panther  The panther totem animal encourages us to understand the power within the shadows and to eliminate our fear of the dark and unknown.


    Whether this silver panther animal is chosen for the work place or for a more personal setting you can be sure he will make himself at home.

  • Good Luck Elephants


    The idea that elephants bring good luck is firmly embedded in history.  Elephants are a symbol of strength, power, stability and wisdom and are popular world wide in the form of jewellery, charms, ornaments, statues and elephant sculptures.


    Elephant carvings or ornaments should always face the door to encourage good luck and good fortune to flow through out  a home or office.  Business owners in Asia often have a couple of good luck elephants by the entrance of their building to offer stability and wisdom to their company.  Similarly, two elephants in the entrance of a private home will bring knowledge and success to the family within.

    Amongst the range of sterling silver animals at Silver Basket there are some very fine silver elephant ornaments to choose from.Large elephant  They range in size from miniature, standing a mere 5cm in height to rather large, achieving 34.5cm in height.Silver-elephant-miniature-ornament-8122  There is a silver elephant for every one, no matter how big or small the house, or how big or small the funds!

    Two silver elephant ornaments placed together in the hallway, despite looking fabulous, may  increase the good fortune of your home. Click here to view our collection.


    Whether the trunk should be up or down in order to attract power, stability and fortune is a debatable point – rather like the decision whether to hang a horse shoe up or down.

    silver elephant ornament  Some say that the trunk should be up, to shower all around with good luck.  Others say the trunk ought to be down to ensure that good fortune flows freely on everyone’s path.

    trunk down silver elephant - silver basket

    Perhaps it is wise to choose one of each – a trumpeting silver elephant or a trunk down silver elephant ornament.  That way you can’t lose!

    Enjoy our range of silver elephant ornaments.  They make fabulous wedding and housewarming gifts – a wonderful gesture towards good luck and fortune.

  • British Silver Hallmarks



    The majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last 500 years is stamped with either four or five symbols, known as hallmarks. The purpose of these marks is to show that the metal of the item upon which they are stamped is of a certain level of purity. The metal is tested and marked at special offices, regulated by the government, known as assay offices. Only metal of the required standard will be marked. It is a form of consumer protection, whose origin goes back almost 1000 years.


    Understanding British Silver Hallmarks may seem somewhat complicated but the following information will give you a little guidance when trying to date and assess the quality of your silver item.


    Firstly, look for the silver standard mark

    The five main standard marks are as follows


    The walking lion for all sterling silver made in England

    The standing lion for all sterling silver made in Edinburgh

    The thistle for all sterling silver made in Glasgow

    The crowned harp for all sterling silver made in Dublin

    The image of Britannia for Britannia standard silver

    silver standard mark


    If you cannot see one of these marks on your silver item the chances are it is either not British or silver-plated.


    Secondly, look for the town mark.  This reveals the relevant town of the assay office where the silver was tested and assessed.  There are many different town marks but the images listed below show the more typical and most frequently used.

    town mark for silver


    Thirdly, the duty mark will indicate either a King or Queen depending on who was one the throne at the time of manufacture.  This Symbol together with the rather complex date symbol system will give the year of manufacture.  Dating a piece requires the help of a little specialist hallmark book such as Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks.

    duty mark for silver


    The image above demonstrates the symbols that show the year of manufacture as 1898.  Each town has an individual symbol for each year.  Be careful when deciphering these codes as the shape that surrounds the letter can vary slightly and the significance of upper and lower case is most certain.  It is important to remember that, for example the letter c may indicate 1898 for London but that rule will not apply to any other town!


    Finally, look for the Maker’s Mark.

    This is usually represented by the initials of the silversmith.

    makers mark for silver


    Visiting antique shops, auctions and junk shops can be enlightening armed with a pocket guide to hallmarks.  You may even find an absolute bargain.

  • Classifying Silver

    Silver and the various ‘grades’ of silver can seem a little confusing.

    Here are a few facts to shed a little light on the issue of classifying silver.


    Fine Silver or pure silver is 99.9% silver.  The remaining .01% purely amounts to trace elements and impurities found naturally within silver.  This grade of silver is used to make bullion bars for trading and investment in silver.  It is generally thought of to be much too soft for general use.  Any item (usually jewellery) made from pure silver will be quite susceptible to bending.  Interestingly people often refer to old silver, for example Georgian candlesticks, as being solid, pure silver, when in fact the main body of the candlestick was a clay base and silver was added purely as a finish.


    Britannia silver is 95.8% silver.  It is an alloy; 95.84% pure silver and 4.16% copper.  The Britannia standard was developed in Britain in 1697 to help prevent British sterling silver coins from being melted to make silver plate.  Britiannia silver was obligatory between 1697 and 1720 and from then on became optional.


    Sterling Silver is 92.5% pure silver and should always carry the 925 stamp of purity.  Be dubious about buying sterling silver without the stamp.


    French 1st Standard is 95% pure silver with 5% copper or other metal


    Russian zolonik silver is 91.6% pure silver.


    It is worth being aware that pure silver does not tarnish. Sterling silver is, however susceptible and it is important to learn how to clean and polish your silver items.  Silver cleaning is not always straightforward and some cloths sold for the purpose do actually scratch your fine silver.

    Before cleaning you must be aware as to whether your item is sterling silver or silver-plated.  Each require a different approach.  More detailed information is available under a separate article.


    Silver–plate or electroplated silver is often referred to as EPNS (electro plated nickel silver).  Nickel silver, which in fact contains no silver but is an alloy of nickel, zinc and copper, is plated with silver to give the appearance of fine silver.  Silver-plated items make very attractive but less expensive silver gifts.  In time the silver-plating will wear and it is important to clean these items correctly to encourage longevity of the silver finish.

    If your chosen silver item seem a bargain in price beware…it may actually be silver-plated.  If it is truly fine silver or sterling silver it will be clearly hallmarked.

    Please note, when buying silver-plate opt for EPNS, which can easily be re-plated.  If you choose EPSS (electro-plated stainless steel) it is unsuitable for re-plating.

  • The Silver Element

    THE SILVER ELEMENT - All you need to know about Silver






    Symbol: Ag

    Atomic number: 47

    Group number: 11

    Mass: 107.868

    Density @ 293 K: 10.5 g/cm3


    Atomic volume: 10.3 cm3/mol

    Melting Point: 961.93 C (1235.1 K)

    Boiling Point: 2212 C (2428 K)

    Heat of fusion: 11.30 kJ/mol

    Heat of vaporization: 250.580 kJ/mol

    Number of Protons/Electrons: 47

    Number of neutrons: 61

    Classification: Transition Metal

    Crystal Structure: Face-centered Cubic

    Colour: silver

    Hardness: 3.25 mohs

    Characteristics: soft, ductile, tarnishes


    Structure of atom:

    Number of shells: 5

    Atom arrangement:

    1. first shell – 2

    2. second shell – 8

    3. third shell – 18

    4. fourth shell – 18

    5. fifth shell – 1



    Electron configuration: [Kr] 4d10 5s1

    Minimum oxidation number: 0

    Maximum oxidation number: 3

    Minimum oxidation state: 0 (silver occurs naturally in ores in its elemental state)

    Maximum oxidation state: 3 (the unit cell of silver oxide, Ag4O4, has two atoms of univalent silver and two atoms of trivalent silver)


    Half Lives:

    Isotope            Half Live

    Ag105            41.3 days

    Ag105m            7.2 minutes

    Ag106m            8.4 days

    Ag107            stable

    Ag108            2.4 minutes

    Ag108m            130 years

    Ag109            stable

    Ag109m            39.8 seconds

    Ag110            24.6 seconds

    Ag110m            249.8 days

    Ag111            7.47 days



    1st ionization energy: 731 kJ/mole

    Electronegativity: 1.93

    2nd ionization energy: 2073.5 kJ/mole

    Electron affinity: 125.6 kJ/mole

    3rd ionization energy: 3360.6 kJ/mole

    Specific heat: 0.235 J/gK

    Heat atomization: 284 kJ/mole atoms



    With air: mild, =>Ag2O

    With 6M HCl: none

    With 6M HCl: none

    With 15M HNO3: mild, =>AgNO3

    Other Forms:

    number of isotopes: 2

    hydride(s): none

    oxide(s): Ag2O

    chloride(s): AgCl



    ionic radius (2- ion): pm

    ionic radius (1- ion): pm

    atomic radius: 144 pm

    ionic radius (1+ ion): 129 pm

    ionic radius (2+ ion): 108 pm

    ionic radius (3+ ion): 89 pm



    Thermal conductivity: 429 J/m-sec-degC

    Electrical conductivity: 630.5 1/mohm-cm

    Electrical resistivity: 1.467 X 10-8 ohms-m (OoC)

    Polarizability: 7.9 A^3



    Silver occurs in the metallic state, commonly associated with gold, copper, lead, and zinc. It is also found in some 60 minerals including: argentite (a sulfide), cerargyrite (a chloride), many other sulfides and tellurides.

    Relative abundance in solar system: -0.313 log

    Abundance earth’s crust: -1.2 log



    English: Silver

    French: Argent

    German: Silber

    Italian: Argento

    Latin: Argentum

    Spanish: Plata





  • Properties of Silver


    We imagine that the monetary value and popularity of silver very much centres around its high luster when polished, its almost magical, lunar qualities and its early use as coinage, but there is more to silver’s heritage than meets the eye.  The properties of silver are quite interesting.

    sterling silver swan


    Silver has been tied into our survival and health from very early times.  In the era of Alexander the Great silver was used to keep liquids pure and to prevent the spoilage of stored liquids and from as early as the times of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, silver was renowned for its healing and anti-disease properties.  Silver ions have the capacity to break down bacterial cell walls even at extremely low concentrations. Whilst battling bravely against the bubonic plague wealthy people, consciously or by instinct ate with silverware and silver dishes to protect themselves from disease.


    During Word War One, before the arrival of antibiotics, silver was used to help control disease amongst soldiers on the battlefield.  Silver still plays an important role in present day medicine.  It is added to bandages and wound dressings and catheters and is part of the technology behind Xrays.  Breathing tubes are now coated with silver to reduce ventilator associated pneumonia.

    However, please note: people who drink silver solution or who take silver in remedy form in an attempt to keep infections at bay may turn an interesting shade of blue-grey if too much silver is taken.  This condition is known as Argyria.


    At present, the medical qualities of silver seem to be under much debate.  As always there are two camps batting an argument for  and against but perhaps history knows best… we have worked closely with silver for many centuries.


    This on-going connection between silver and our health as humans has, of course, become embellished with traditions and customs as the years have passed.  Silver cutlery has been an important Christening or Baptism gift for a baby since 15th century.  To be ‘born with a silver spoon in your mouth’ was the utmost luxury for, as tradition would have it, the silver spoon would ensure good health.

    Silver Apostle Spoons Silver Apostle Spoons




    Babies, through out the ages have cut their teeth on silver rattles and teething rings.  The anti-bacterial quality of the metal will, of course, aid healthy gums throughout the painful process.

    Peter Rabbit silver teething ring by Silver Basket Peter Rabbit silver teething ring by Silver Basket


    Man and silver make a wonderful match – we mould it, sculpt it ,engrave it and covert it; silver in return plays an important but subtle role in our health and well-being.


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