RUSSIAN NIELLO SPOONS
Niello is a very ancient technique
silver. Except for a variation which is currently used on silver from
(Siam), it has not been used in well over 100 years.
The spoons are first hand pounded, thus each is a little different.
the designs are "gouged out" of the silver. The niello
mixture of pure silver, copper, and lead in a ratio of 1:2:3 is
Sulfur causes the new metal to become a grainy black
and it is crushed into powder form. The powder is then applied to the
in the silver spoon and the spoon is reheated until the niello melts
permanently attaches to the silver spoon. The piece is then
carefully cleaned and any unwanted niello is
This is a much more demanding task than this
description indicates, and it requires a skilled artisan to achieve the
The bowls on these spoons have also been gilded with gold.
The set of 8 teaspoons pictured on this page were produced in
in the new Art
.(Some have 1859 dates and some have 1860 dates). They all
graceful flowing loops and curves
and a few
rectangles which is unusual for art nuevo. Each piece is different and
eight spoons were made by several different silversmiths probably under
The large serving spoon at the top was NOT part of this set and
it is a different design
Note: One should never eat off the spoons which
work on the bowl
. The lead in the mixture could enter the brain
the bloodstream and could cause damage. Of course, brain damage from
poisoning was not known at that time.
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