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