Tea service

A tea service that looks like it has been made of metal leaves. The photograph shows nine pieces.

Teapot, milk jug, sugar basin, sugar tongs, ladle and four small dishes, silver-gilt, made by William Smith of Liverpool, hallmarked at Chester, 1870-71.

William Smith came from Middlesex and worked in Liverpool as a jeweller, gilder and electroplater from about the 1860s. He had premises firstly in Cable Street then Rainford Gardens.

This tea set is the earliest known work by Smith. Only four other pieces by him are recorded. The set is composed of a teapot, milk jug, sugar bowl, ladle, tongs and four sweetmeat dishes. The service is composed of overlapping vine leaves with entwined stems and tendrils. It is one of the more extreme forms of High Victorian naturalism in silver.

Purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund, 1999