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Philippines’ Book with Fine Colonial Silver Mounts

18th-19th century

height: 18.3cm, width: 11.8cm, thickness: 2.8cm, weight: 470g



UK art market

This European-made book has exceptionally fine, chased and pierced silver mounts which are among the finest colonial Philippines silverwork that we have seen.

The black shagreen (ray skin) binding of the encased book is likely to be Dutch and date to around 1750. The silver mounts date to that period or might have been applied later, in the early nineteenth century.

The mounts are on both sides – on both covers – and include two pierced strap latches which snap shut to keep the book closed.

The mounts comprise delicately-rendered floral and feather scrolls. Related silverwork showing similar floral work is illustrated in Henkel et al(2009) and includes the mounts for a comb (p. 116, lower image), and a cigar holder and a brazier (p. 127, top & middle).

The pages of the book itself are blank and almost entirely unmarked, although just a few have recipes (in English) handwritten in ink. The shagreen on one side of the covers has some minor shrinkage-related cracking, bit otherwise, the book is in surprisingly fine condition.


Henkel, D., et al, Land of the Morning: The Philippines and its People, Asian Civilisations Museum (Singapore), 2009.

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