Modest items can make exceptional prices

A modest silver napkin ring by Brian Asquith, 1967, which made £220 in a specialist auction. (Illustrating the importance of the designer, valued at £15 to £20 if by an unknown maker).

By Vivienne Milburn  FRICS Independent Antiques Auctioneer & Valuer

DERBYSHIRE designer Brian Asquith (1930-2008) was a sculptor and jeweller, who developed an industrial design practice in Sheffield and Youlgreave after studying at the Royal College of Art. 

He won numerous Design Council awards, as well as being commissioned to design silverware for Downing Street; candlesticks for the high altar of Winchester Cathedral; and some of his work is in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Brian Asquith’s silver items sell well at auction for three reasons: 1, The local connection; 2, The fashionable retro look; and 3, the precious metal they are made from; make a winning combination for good auction results.

After doing his National Service, in 1953 he returned to his native Sheffield and completed a monumental sculpture for a new church at South Ruislip. He also taught part-time at Barnsley College of Art. By 1955 he was sharing an office and studio with the well-known David Mellor, also a native of Sheffield. In 1963 he moved from Sheffield and established his design business at Youlgreave in the Peak District, where his three sons also joined the family firm.

Having firmly established his business in Youlgreave, Brian turned his attention to making individual metal objects. About the same time, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and Silversmiths commissioned him to make a three-piece tea service. By the late 1960s he was producing a range of domestic silver with a sculptural texture. The inspiration for the textured band is his interpretation of the running streams of the Peak District, which became a trademark of his work.

In 2004 there was a major retrospective of his work – Brian Asquith Sculpted by Design – at Sheffield’s Millennium Galleries. 

Editor’s Note: Perhaps you have items of value? If so, it is always worth getting the advice of an Independent Antiques Valuer to assess your works of art and antiques. 

For further information, contact Vivienne on 01629 640210 or 07870 238788; alternatively, go to  or email