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Castle Top Silver: History, Valuations & How to Sell

Castle top silver is highly collectable. If you have a piece of Castle Top Silver and would like to find out more your item please read our guide to their history at the end of this page. You will also find a guide for the 6 things to look for in your Castle Top Silver and a guide to the common hallmarks used.   

Castle top silver refers to a specific style of English silverware that was popular during the 19th century. It is characterized by its elaborate designs and intricate engravings, often depicting castles, landmarks, or scenes from literature. The term “castle top” comes from the practice of engraving these designs on the lid or cover of a silver box, such as a snuffbox or card case. These pieces were often used for decorative or sentimental purposes and were considered highly desirable among the upper class.

One of the key features to look for in castle top silver is the quality of its engravings. Skilled artisans would spend hours intricately hand-engraving each piece, resulting in detailed and stunning designs. Another important factor to consider is the condition of the silver itself. Look out for any signs of wear or damage, as this can greatly affect its value.

Battle Abbey silver

What Is Your Silver Worth?

How To Sell: Auction or Private Sale?

Mark Littler Ltd. are one of the only independent advisers in the antique industry. We offer trusted, independent advice to help you sell your silver for the highest possible price.

Selling at an auction might provide your silver with greater exposure. However, with a combined average of 45% in gross buyers’ and sellers’ fees, this approach might prove to be a false economy.

Conversely, finding a private buyer for your silver through our services could net you 33% more than if you sold it via auction, as our fees are only 12%.

What We Do For You

Simply fill in your contact details below and you will get an automatic referral to a leading silver auction expert who will give you an auction estimate and advise on how to sell with them.  We will also see if we are able to get any offer from our private clients. 

If we get any offers we will send these within 7 days.  All offers are without obligation and there are no fees to pay us if you decide to sell at auction.

Silver Valuation Tips

To get the most accurate valuation of your silver simply ensure you provide the following information:

  1. What condition is your silver in? Let us know if there are and dents or heavy scratches in the silver.
  2. How heavy is your item?  Please provide a measurement in grams if you can as this helps us determine the gauge of the silver.  For instance a silver teapot can weigh as much as 1,000g or as little as 250g.  Outwardly the design may look identical but the gauge of the silver is much heavier.  This is important as items made from a better gauge of silver were often made by better makers for the upper classes, and as such will have a big impact on the value.
  3. PROVENANCE! Who owned your item before you did?  Is there an interesting presentation inscription on your item that might shine light into it’s former life?

Important Note: this is a valuation service and not a hallmark identification service.  Please see this page to learn how to read your hallmarks.

Free Expert Silver Valuations

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    What to look for in your Castle Top Silver

    castle top silver subjects

    Condition

    The condition of the decoration on castle top silver is very important. Look for signs of an over zealous cleaner as a previous owner; if it has been over-polished there will be no fine details left. A split around the seam of the case is normally repairable.

    castle top silver hallmarks

    Hallmarks

    The hallmarks on your card case are likely to be on the inner rim of the base. As the marks are placed in direct contact with the closing lid they can sometimes become obscured. As long as the date and maker are readable it is considered ok.

    castle top silver sell

    Card Cases

    The record for a castle top card case stands at £9,800 which was for a very rare example of The Post Office, Dublin.  More typically they sell for £300-500, with the value being mostly formed from how unfrequnetly the building or castle occurs on a case.

    What Our Customers Say

    Excellent5.0 Based on 366 reviews fromSee all reviewsb M.b M. ★★★★★ The service from the Littler team is exceptional. Many businesses make big promises and very very few deliver. Littler actually deliver. In addition. all the team that i dealt with were courteous and efficient and the service from start to finish was flawless. I cannot recommend them highly enoughkaren mc V.karen mc V. ★★★★★ Excellent service from initial email to sale completion. Highly recommend Mark and his team. Everything dealt with efficiently. Thank youJose V.Jose V. ★★★★★ I recently had the pleasure of working with Mark Littler to sell my collection of 14 high-end whisky bottles, which included my precious Karuizawa collection and a 40-year-old Port Ellen, and I couldn't be more pleased with the experience. From the initial consultation through to the final sale, Mark and his team demonstrated unparalleled professionalism and deep market knowledge. They provided expert advice on pricing and marketing strategies, ensuring that my collection reached the right buyers and secured the best possible price. It's clear that Mark Littler is exceptionally skilled in handling luxury collections, and I would highly recommend his services to anyone looking to sell high-value items with confidence and ease. Thank you, Mark, for making what could have been a daunting process, smooth and rewarding!Brian P.Brian P. ★★★★★ A very efficient sales service from quote through delivery to payment. All done with care and a smile. Thanks.Brian S.Brian S. ★★★★★ I had a bottle of 25 year Anniversary McAllan and was looking at the options available.Direct selling / via broker / go to auction?To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this. I'd convinced myself that this whole process was going to be a bit of a pain.I'd envisioned bargaining back and forth with various entities, paying through the nose for commissions / insurance / postage etc...So, did some investigation, looked at number of these possibilities and decided to contact Mark Littler.No regrets.Quite simply: Great service from ML teamSo, what was good?Prompt communicationClear defined processesVery fair price offeredBottle Return process : Fully insured, solid packing materials provided.Contract clear & simple (client copy provided)Payment was completed within two days of them receiving my bottleSo thanks Matt & Rachel.Your professionalism and friendly service has been greatly appreciated.Kind regards,BrianEddie F.Eddie F. ★★★★★ I am so pleased with the service I have received from Mark and his team. He has guided me through the whole process of selling my Dad’s whisky collection, Including sending the less valuable stuff to auction. I’d highly recommend him without a doubt.Charles S.Charles S. ★★★★★ Excellent professional service - prompt, uncomplicated, efficientscott M.scott M. ★★★★★ I can’t recommend Mark and Katy enough. My whisky casks were sold for more than I expected. This was done with minimum fuss. Their communication was great and I shall be using them again.SusanSusan ★★★★★ Can you tell me the hallmark for this medalResponse from the ownerHi Susan. Please can you email images to [email protected] and we'll be happy to help. Tom H.Tom H. ★★★★★ Matt Tweats at Mark Littler has been super helpful and gone above and beyond to help me sell my whisky collection. Thank you very muchCharles L.Charles L. ★★★★★ It was a pleasure to deal with Mark and his team in the sale of my whisky cask. Excellent customer service, communication, professional, helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly.Overall, I would have no hesitation in endorsing Mark Littler Ltd in achieving the best price if you are looking to sell your cask.Geoffrey B.Geoffrey B. ★★★★★ I wanted to sell a couple of whisky casks and used Mark Littler Ltd as my whisky broker. Apparently it is a slow process but Mark Littler managed to push the sale through quickly and at a good price. I have no hesitation in leaving this 5* review for the company.js_loader
    what is castle top silver

    Vinaigrettes

    Although castle top vinaigrettes have a higher average selling price than card cases, often around £500-1000 depending on the subject, the record is only £6,600. Look out for vinaigrettes in their original boxes as they are often in perfect condition.

    castle top silver valuations

    Embossed decoration

    Most castle top silver is made by die stamping (pushing the metal out from behind using a stamp). The greater the decoration stands clear from the front of the cover, the harder it was to make, and highly detailed cases are very sought after by collectors.

    castle top silver valuations

    Engraved Decoration

    Castle Top Silver can also have engraved decoration. A specialist engraver would often be employed just to add the decoration to the front of the card case or vinaigrette. As the decoration is shallow it can be prone to rubbing and loosing details.

    The Main Castle Top Silver Hallmarks

    Castle Top Silver

    Alfred Taylor

    Birmingham – registered mark 1851, active circa 1853-1870.  Currently it is an Alfred Taylor card case which holds the world record price for an item of castle top silver. 

    Castle Top Silver

    George Unite

    Birmingham – registered first mark in 1832, active circa 1832-1901.  The record for a George Unite castle top card case is £9,200.

    Castle Top Silver

    Nathaniel Mills

    Birmingham – active 1826-1857.  The record for a Nathaniel Mills castle top card case is £9,200.

    A History of Castle Top Silver Boxes

    In the mid-19th century, small silver boxes depicting images of castles, manor houses, or churches were used to carry cards, snuff, and vinaigrettes. These silver cases were fashioned by the Birmingham ‘toy’ makers. They were engraved or die-stamped with British landmarks. Castle top silver cases were likely marketed as souvenirs for honeymooners and day-trippers in Victorian England and are highly collectable.

    The custom of leaving visiting cards lasted throughout the 19th century, and the need for covering up offensive odours outdoors (which vinaigrettes were used for) certainly persisted through that period. Yet castle top silver was only at the height of fashion between the period of circa 1830 to 1860. This rather brief period of popularity limits the cases availability and in turn makes these Castle Top Silver cases highly collectable today.

    Castle top card cases

    Calling cards were left behind at a residence if the required person wasn’t available. They served as both an introductory letter and a symbol of manners and social standing. Cards for unmarried men were usually smaller than the cards married men carried. The most desirable card cases in the mid-19th century featured scenes of British landmarks.

    Castle top vinaigrettes

    Vinaigrettes held sponges dipped in strong fragrance to help mask unpleasant street smells. Wealthy citizens could afford the fragrances needed to mask the strong scents. The beautiful castle top silver cases helped a disagreeable situation feel a bit more tolerable.

    Castle top silver in the 21st century

    Castle top silver is now valued for the variety of depictions of British landmarks. The rarer the building, the higher the demand in today’s market. You can find engravings of Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Melrose Abbey, and Oxford College, just to name a few.