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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "James II Porringer and Cover by Benjamin Pyne"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
See obituary of Mrs G.E.P How below
A legend in the art world almost as much for the startling trenchancy of her utterance as for her impeccable scholarship and taste, Mrs. G. E. P. How was perhaps the last surviving link to the heroic age of antique dealing before the war, when great discoveries were made and dealers were becoming more than mere merchants of curios. Mrs. How stood out from the first by her scholarly energy and integrity, and she became one of the most influential dealers of her time. ...
Jane Penrice Benson was born in 1915, the posthumous daughter of an officer killed in the war. The family had been based in South Wales, though she herself grew up in the Home Counties. Her early ambition was to be an archaeologist; it was accidentally transmuted into silver when a neighbour suggested that she would enjoy helping to catalogue his collection of early spoons. (The fascination of spoons is that they are the only form of silver to survive in any quantity from the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance; without them it would be impossible to map the early history of the craft.) The expert she was to assist was Commander G. E. P. How, RN (retd), who turned out to be a jovial gentleman dealer with some considerable knowledge and a not entirely unpiratical bent. It was not long before the young Miss Benson was enthralled by man and subject alike.
The Ellis catalogue on which they worked is still a useful reference book, and Miss Benson moved to work with George How, and eventually, after his divorce, to marry him. The Commander and the Commando, as they were soon known, threw themselves into new research, living, breathing and in some cases sleeping with their spoons. ...
As dealers, the Hows were a new breed, coming from a background very different from that of the traditional silver merchant, and they owed a lot to their contacts, to their social ease and an unquestionable sense of gentlemanly integrity. Their shops were fitted out to look like a collector’s drawing room, and indeed they held open house in the evenings for collectors to come to talk about silver. The Hows also offered more intellectually than much of the competition. They were among the first to persuade collectors to insist on the highest quality and untouched condition, however modest the piece. The greater importance this placed on the historical value of silver appealed to discerning customers, even of small means, and to museums here and in America. ...
(Her) pugnacity could make her seem a fearsome, if diminutive, figure, especially when encountered on the serious ground of silver. But though few were spared the rougher edge of her tongue, no one could be in doubt as to her enormous underlying generosity. No serious scholar was ever refused help, and her personal kindness was great, if discreetly performed.