Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Newsletter #71 - July 2017

A fine and rare pair of Edwardian silver and enamel Menu Holders, of double-disc form on circular bases, the sprung faces painted with finely detailed enamelled scenes depicting leaping Tarpon (Silver Kings) in river landscape scenes.
By Sampson Mordan & Co, Chester, 1905 & 1906.
Two from a set of four depicting various Game Fish.
(Please click on the link to see more details)

The Silver King, or Tarpon, has been the target of anglers since before people tried spearing them from wooden rowboats at the turn of the century, and have drawn writers like Hemingway and presidents like Teddy Roosevelt to the blue-green waters of Florida's Gulf Coast.

When William Halsey Wood landed the first big tarpon ever caught on rod and reel, news quickly spread. This 1885 event changed the face and fabric of sports fishing and helped make Southwest Florida a mecca for anglers from all parts of the world.

The news crossed the Atlantic and the London Observer of August 26, 1886, had this to say:

"Here, at last, there is a rival to the black bass of North America, to the Siluris glanis of the Danube, to our own European salmon, and possibly even to the sturgeon, were that monster capable of taking a hook and holding it in its leech-like sucker of a mouth. Sportsmen may go to Florida for the tarpon, as they now go to the Arctic Zone for the reindeer, walrus and musk-ox."

The Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) inhabits coastal waters, estuaries, lagoons, and rivers. Tarpons feed almost exclusively on schooling fish and occasionally crabs. A tarpon is capable of filling its swim bladder with air, like a primitive lung. This gives the tarpon a predatory advantage when oxygen levels in the water are low. Tarpons have been recorded at up to 2.5m (8ft 2in) in length and weighing up to 161kg (355lb)

In appearance, tarpons are greenish or bluish on top and silver on the sides. The large mouth is turned upwards and the lower jaw contains an elongated, bony plate. The last ray of the dorsal fin is much longer than the others, reaching nearly to the tail.

Today, the silver king remains one of the most sought-after of all game fish. And the same spot where Wood landed the now-legendary fish - Sanibel's very own Tarpon Bay - is still one of the best locations to challenge the aggressive, silver-scaled whoppers that measure more than five feet long and tip the scales at nearly 100 pounds.

Successful early 20th century Lady Tarpon Angler, Boca Grande, Florida

W.H. Wood's story about snagging a 93-pound Tarpon close to Boca Grande was first published in "Forrest and Stream" but soon spread worldwide. Once the story spread to New York and then to London, southwest Florida soon became known as the prime sport fishing destination for wealthy businessmen from around the world.

It is easy to imagine how these early 20th century wealthy and intrepid travelling anglers would have appreciated the work of high-end silver manufacturer and retailer; Sampson Mordan, who produced the illustrated set of silver and enamel Menu Holders. They might inspire or remind the owner of exciting overseas fishing adventures. Similar Holders are decorated with Hunting, Shooting, Racing and other Sporting scenes.

A fine and rare set of four Edwardian silver and enamel Menu Holders, of double disc form on circular bases, the sprung faces painted with finely detailed enamelled scenes of a Brown Trout, a Black Bass and two leaping Tarpon in river landscape scenes.
By Sampson Mordan & Co, Chester, 1905, 1906 & 1908.
(Please click on the link to see more details)

Early 20th century Pioneering American Angler and Author - Pearl Zane Grey

(Click on the above image to zoom)

This month's featured item is a very fine quality Victorian Heart Shaped Cased silver and enamel Scent Flask with attached suspension ring and chains to secure the screw-off domed cover, the face enamelled with Lily Flowers and stems, the reverse engraved with contemporary owner's initials "M.W" which are repeated in gilt on the plush silk and purple velvet fitted case.

By John Batson, London 1872.

Also engraved with a registered design lozenge for 25th September 1872.

(Please click on the link to see more details

Victorian Silver Gilt Mounted Scent Bottle / Vinaigrette 'Turquoise & Pearl' Victorian Silver Castle-Top Vinaigrette 'Kenilworth Castle Keep' Victorian Antique Cast Silver Horned Bull George III Silver 'Nelson' Vinaigrette HMS Victory Grille
Victorian Novelty Silver "Godless Florin" Pile of Coins Vinaigrette Victorian Gold Bangle with attached Red Guilloche Enamel Cased Propelling Pencil Victorian Novelty Silver Mounted Red Glass 'Owls Head' Scent Bottle Victorian Silver Mounted Ivory Combination Propelling Pencil / Pen / Thermometer / Compass / Ruler

Once again, I am pleased to be able to update the site this month with several new items of stock and some highlights include; a fine Victorian silver gilt mounted Scent Bottle / Vinaigrette set with turquoise & pearls, a rare Victorian silver Castle-Top Vinaigrette depicting Kenilworth Castle Keep, a good Victorian cast silver Model of a Horned Bull, a rare George III silver 'Nelson' Vinaigrette with HMS Victory grille, a Victorian silver Pile of Coins "Godless Florin" Vinaigrette, a fine Victorian gold Bangle set with a red guilloche enamel cased Pencil, a large Victorian silver mounted ruby glass Owls Head Scent Bottle, and a rare Victorian silver mounted ivory combination Propelling Pencil / Pen / Compass / Thermometer /Ruler by Sampson Mordan.

I do hope that you will find this Newsletter informative and helpful and will allow us send it to you on a regular basis. I would welcome any feedback you may have, both positive and negative.

David W.A. Buck.
Steppes Hill Farm Antiques