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Bidders polishing up for prime California silver

A portion of a renowned California silver collection, amassed by a late physics professor of California State University, will come before bidders Nov. 4. The sale is being presented by Witherell's.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On Nov. 4, 2016, Witherell’s will auction 400 lots of an exquisite California silver collection. Edwin Iloff, a California State University, Sacramento, physics professor, amassed the collection during his lifetime.

University science endowments IIoff established will benefit from sale of the lots in this auction.

Inspiration Behind Collecting California Silver

IIoff's collection exceeds 1,000 pieces.

coin silver fruit stand

Schulz & Fischer coin silver fruit stand, supported by a Greek goddess, is estimated at $2,000 to $4,000. (All photos by Witherell's)

“Iloff was, without question, the most prolific collector of California silver to date,” said Brian Witherell, Antiques Roadshow appraiser and Witherell’s chief operating officer. ‘He approached collecting as a student, not a teacher.”

Scholar and author Pansylea Wilburn inspired IIoff's study and appreciation of the regional vernacular of a centuries-old, art form. “A chance encounter with Wilburn ignited a passion that '''''';;;;

rrrrwould become the primary focus of his life,” said Witherell.

The Sacramento, Calif.-based Crocker Art Museum called the original group the most comprehensive California silver collection ever assembled. A prestigious pair of pre-1864 Vanderslice servers, with a value of $10,000, is among the museum's inventory. “Giving the Crocker Art Museum a prominent piece was the right thing to do,” said Helen Schmidt, the estate’s executor.

Standout Silver

Such beauties as the Shreve & Co. (1852 to present) sterling ship captain’s presentation bowl with a sailor’s sewing ditty, anchor decoration, chain tie and everted scalloped rim lead the auction offering. The 11-inch by 4-inch high item reads “Presented to Cap’t. J.C. Hunter of the Ship George W. Elder… 1888.” Estimated at $3,000 to $5,000, this 32 oz. troy piece shows the innovative design that became the hallmark of Shreve artistry.

A Vanderslice & Co. (1858-1908) coin silver, footed pitcher bears elaborate repoussé and a Russian

sterling ship's captain's presentation bowl

Shreve & Co. sterling ship’s captain’s presentation bowl, $3,000 to $5,000.

winter scene depicting two couples in two horse-drawn sleighs. A rim and wild boar's head handle top this 11 1/4 inch high piece. It carries an estimate of $2,000 to $4,000 into the sale.

A Schulz & Fischer (1863-1900) coin silver, monogrammed fruit stand is supported by a Greek goddess. The 14.25-inch by 12-inch by 15-inch high centerpiece is accented by Greek key bands with portrait medallions over a repoussé floral base (estimate $2,000-$4,000).

Another Vanderslice & Co., a silver monogrammed pepper mill with bell top and cylindrical body on base is attributed to Will & Finck, San Francisco. Measuring 6 1/4 inches high and weighing 8 oz. troy, it has an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.

A presentation inkstand by Vanderslice & Co. with two silver-topped hexagonal glass inkpots features silver figural elk on a silver rock with a footed stand. At 9.5 inches wide, 5.75 inches deep and 6.25 inches high with 2.5 inch high inkpots, this functional piece of art is estimated at only $500 to $1,000.

For more details, visit or call 916-446-6490.

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