Palm Beach Society Magazine: Worth Going

Palm Beach Society Magazine recently interviewed The Silver Fund’s founder and owner Michael James for the Worth Going column.

Easy-to-read text is below the image below.

The Silver Fund is… Worth Going

FIRST, A QUESTION I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE WHEN THEY WALK IN AND SEE SUCH A DIVERSE COLLECTION… WHY IS YOUR BUSINESS CALLED THE SILVER FUND?
The company was co-founded in London in 1996 by me with a consortium of investors to buy and sell estate silver from the nest Danish silversmith Georg Jensen — it was thus a fund and we took the company private in 2008. Later we expanded into silver from other makers, then after the opening of the shop in Palm Beach we expanded into furniture and design as we had an amazing 2500 square feet to fill.

SO YOU WERE IN LONDON?
Yes, we had a shop on Bond Street before moving to St. James Street in London. We opened in New York on Madison Avenue at 77th and also San Francisco after having had a successful silver concession within Gumps, the famous department store. We were also doing fairs and exhibitions around the world — Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong, etc.

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?
I have always loved buying and selling beautiful things. I started at 18 and it was a hobby that turned into a business and the only way to keep collecting was to keep buying and selling.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE PALM BEACH?
We have been exhibiting in Palm Beach for over two decades, starting with the American International Fine Arts Fair. We always enjoyed coming to Palm Beach in the winter to see our friends and clients and to make new ones. The fair was full of the best dealers in the world — it was amazing. There is no where else in the world like Palm Beach. When this space on prime Worth Avenue became available, we couldn’t pass it up.

DO YOU YOU STILL DEAL IN GEORG JENSEN SILVER?
Yes, for a long time we were the largest dealer in Georg Jensen hollowware and flatware in the world having published the definitive book on the subject. We still have a very large collection, but specialize in only the finest pieces now.

(Read more about our collection of Georg Jensen by clicking here.)

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PIECE?
We recently purchased an incredible sh dish. We have a large selection of trays that came from an estate that had specially ordered them directly from Georg Jensen. It’s unusual to be able to find such a large collection of trays.

WHAT OTHER SILVER DO YOU DEAL IN?
Jean E. Puiforcat — French and Mexican. Jean Després — an amazing silversmith who designed and made all of the pieces himself who had an Aeronautical background. Also we showcase Tiffany, Cartier objects and thousands of different items.

WHAT DOES THE SILVER FUND SPECIALIZE IN NOW?
Furniture and lighting from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Fantastic designers including Vladimir Kagan, Karl Springer, Milo Baughman and Paul Evans amongst others. On top of this we have one of the nest collections of 50s, 60s and 70s Murano art glass available for sale in the U.S.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DESIGNER?
It is difficult to pick, because they are so different, but Vladimir Kagan is a design stand out — his pieces are timeless. A few months before he passed away we had the good fortune of meeting him as he was a well-known Palm Beach resident. He was delighted to see a sofa in our gallery that he had custom designed for a client in the 70s and he said it should be in a museum.

DO THE CLIENTS INTERESTED IN MID-CENTURY FURNITURE MOSTLY HAVE MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY HOUSES?
Many of our clients have classic Palm Beach houses. Several of our clients have beautiful Mizner homes and the pieces look incredible, because they provide a wonderful contrast. They also work well with how people live now. The furniture is comfortable. The colors are vibrant and compliment the amazing colors and light of Palm Beach and most importantly, they were handmade in America, before mass manufacturing moved to China.

DO YOU REUPHOLSTER THE FURNITURE? 
Yes, we reupholster all of the sofas and chairs. Choosing the fabrics and colors is one of our favorite aspects of the furniture business. We work with a few very talented local upholsters and restorers to make sure the pieces are all in excellent condition and immediately ready to live with.

ARE MOST OF YOUR CLIENTS IN PALM BEACH?
We have clients around the entire world. That is partly because we’ve been doing fairs around the world for years but also because Palm Beach is a very international city. One day last week our shipper picked up pieces that were going to clients in Miami, Bermuda, as well as the South of France.

WHY DID YOU EXPAND INTO FURNITURE AND DESIGN?
We’ve always loved design and bought things for our own homes. When we took the gallery in Palm Beach we had more space than in previous shops so it seemed like a natural progression. We have created a lifestyle shop which is hard to find in many other places in the world.

IS THERE A COMMON THEME THROUGH EVERYTHING YOU DEAL IN?
Everything we sell is the best of the best when it was originally made. They weren’t pieces that were mass produced, but rather, very expensive furniture in its day and it still shows — because they are of the highest quality.

WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR ITEMS FROM?
We buy a lot direct from estates where we get to select an odd piece here and there, literally, and we reject hundreds of items in order to find the one real exceptional piece that makes its way to the gallery door.

DO DESIGNERS USE YOUR GALLERY AS A RESOURCE?
We have maybe a 100 or so top designers that visit our store when hunting for items for their clients’ projects, they always want that one accent piece that they simply can’t find anywhere else. It’s exciting to be a top resource for so many talented taste makers.

WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO PEOPLE READING THIS?
Visit our store and be inspired — many people out there have been hugely successful due to their financial literacy but we feel that many need that extra inspiration for visual literacy, if we can assist with that, we would love to.

Palm Beach Society is the social magazine of Palm Beach. It focuses on all the major fundraising activities which take place throughout the year, to raise money and support for a wide variety of charities and non-profit organizations which are committed to serve the local community.

Dealer Michael James Discusses Allure of Silver at Culture & Cocktails

The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County hosted 120 people on March 5 for its second edition of Culture & Cocktails with Michael James, owner and founder of The Silver Fund.

The evening’s topic at The Colony was “The Eternal Allure of Silver” — which James would know about, being the largest dealer worldwide in estate Georg Jensen silver, and selling more than $40 million to private clients since 1996.

James displayed more than a half million dollars of dazzling silver pieces that night.

The next and final Culture & Cocktails event on April 2 will feature Palm Beach Opera General Director Daniel Biaggi and Beth Clark, CEO of the Young Singers of Palm Beach.

Lighthouse Guild Ushers in Gala with Private Reception

The Silver Fund honored the Lighthouse Guild at a private reception in its store on Jan. 18 drawing nearly 100 guests including honorees, chairmen, committee members and supporters of the upcoming dinner dance.

Michael James of The Silver Fund welcomed Mark G. Ackermann, who acknowledged honorary chairman Arlene Dahl. He also thanked Dinner Dance Chairs Thomas Quick, Frannie Scaife, Kit Pannill and Talbot Maxey as well as Young Visionary Chairs Michael Idy and Mathieu Rosinsky.

Among those in attendance were Judith and Rudolph Guiliani, Marc Rosen, Carla and George Mann, Lucy Musso,Kate Gubelman, Pauline Pitt, Stephen DeAngelis, Mai Harrison, Eles Gillet, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Kathy Bleznak, Allison and Don Gulbrandsen, Gigi and Harry Benson, Nancy Paul and Pam Fiore.

The Palm Beach “A Visionary Evening” Dinner Dance will be held Feb. 22 at Club Colette.

Designer Regine Traulsen showcases Moroccan style in Palm Beach

By Carleton Varney – Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

Morocco and Regine Traulsen, in my mind, always walk hand-in-hand.

Regine, who is married to a former Town Councilman Bill Diamond, is a virtuoso at entertaining. She can be found organizing parties in Palm Beach, New York, Paris or Casablanca.

Regine was born in Morocco and enjoys a life of travel across the globe. I first met her some years ago during her days as a fashion designer. Her tunic caftans — embroidered and colorful to perfection — rode quite a new wave in the 1970s.

A fashion designer nearly always is a decorator as well, and the Diamonds’ Palm Beach residence has reflected Regine’s artistic passion, creating a showcase for the best of Moroccan style. From the tiles, lighting fixtures and rugs, to the candelabra and banquette seating, the look would be perfectly appropriate in a Moroccan palace.

The Diamonds often have greeted their dinner guests at an entrance lined with lighted candles in hurricane glasses. The staircase as well as the walkway are enhanced with a Moroccan rug runner.

The folk of the Northern African country are great colorists and fond of rugs. I use Moroccan rugs often in interiors, along with those handmade in the historic Persian countries and Turkey.

For centuries, artists have decorated ceilings with paintings and walls with murals — think, for instance, how one knows to look up when visiting the Sistine Chapel. Regine has gone the other direction and brought floor art in the Moroccan style to her Palm Beach residence, and the look draws great appreciation from decorating connoisseurs. What one might have mistaken as Aubusson rugs, Regine has created with paint on stone surfaces, all durable and ready to walk on, preserved for the future. Washing doesn’t affect the artwork.

When considering a design for floors, we are all familiar with those stencil designs that can be painted on and protected with polyurethane finishes. But not too many of us know how to go over the top — yet underfoot — in the Regine Traulsen style!

At a recent dinner at her home, Regine gave her guests a tour, pointing out all of her new creations and selections. Those included a shimmering blue-topped coffee table purchased from The Silver Fund at 330 Worth Ave., a shop with British roots that reflects great imagination and is stocked with unique pieces — from sofas to tables, from the glass of Venice to the jewelry of Sweden.

The shop focuses on 20th-century pieces, so you never really know what you’ll find. But you can be sure everything has been carefully selected under the sophisticated eye of proprietor Michael James. I would vote The Silver Fund among the best destinations for out-of-the-ordinary designer furnishings and accessory store in the Palm Beaches.

I always love when I hear from readers about design sources in Palm Beach and vicinity for the newest, the best and the most interesting objects. Please drop us an email.

And meanwhile, Regine is certainly making the most of her own sources as she expresses her love of Morocco from head to toe, entertaining with such style in Palm Beach.

Collecting vintage Norwegian enamel

Fusing glass to metal in a kiln has long been an art Norwegians have excelled in. Vitreous enamel was first used in ancient times – from Persia to Greece and China – and was adopted in Norway by the Vikings. The heyday of Norwegian enamel, however, wasn’t until just over a century ago. At the end of the 19th century a Viking revival swept the country, coinciding with the advent of art nouveau and resulting in the creation of some of the finest enamelwork ever made – jewel-like ornaments and tableware that today are attracting renewed attention, with prices ranging from a few thousand pounds to six figures.

“Norwegian enamel from that time is exceptional,” says John Atzbach, an expert and dealer in both Norwegian and Russian enamel, based in Redmond, Washington. “The two most proficient manufacturers were Marius Hammer in Bergen and David-Andersen in Christiania [now Oslo]. Their very best work stems from 1885-1915, and was exported to Europe’s elite.” Atzbach’s extensive stock currently includes an intricate bowl ($5,500) by Hammer in the style of a medieval Scandinavian mead cup, with double horse-head handles, as well as an equally stunning and vibrantly decorated tabletop Viking boat ($7,250) by David-Andersen.

Both were created using a technique called plique-à-jour, literally “open to daylight”. “With this technique the enamel has no backing, so light can shine through, a little like a stained-glass window,” says Atzbach. It’s possible to find some extremely unusual one-off pieces made in this way. As well as some of the more traditional Viking boats, Alan Kaplan, owner of ceramic and glass specialist Leo Kaplan in New York, has a rare plique-à-jour footed bowl depicting a swan, priced $150,000; it was made in 1907 by either Gustav Gaudernack or Thorolf Holmboe, both of whom worked for David-Andersen. A similar piece exists in Oslo’s National Museum.

Norwegian expertise in plique-à-jour was due in part to its neighbour, Russia. “Culturally, the two countries are very connected,” says Michael James, owner of The Silver Fund, a London-founded dealership now based in Florida. “A lot of Norwegian enamellers trained in Russia and many worked for Fabergé, but their use of colour – vibrant blues, reds and yellows – and the fact that they made practical things like candlesticks and coffee sets in enamel, which no one had done before, set them apart.”

To a trained eye, Russian and Norwegian enamelling can be easily differentiated. “Scandinavian shapes tend to be more rounded than Russian designs,” says Alex Pushkin of Pushkin Antiques, based in London’s Grays Antiques market. And while plique-à-jour is often admired for its intricacy, designs from a slightly later period often employ the translucent qualities and vibrant colours to simpler yet just as striking effect, including those made using guilloché. “The makers would create a stippled effect on the silver underneath the translucent enamel; the silver then becomes oxidised so you can see the pattern,” says James, who has a pair of brilliant blue c1950 enamel candlesticks by David-Andersen for sale at £17,268 through 1stdibs, while Pushkin has a small (9.8cm) c1920 David-Andersen blue guilloché and silver box at £1,395.

“Guilloché work is a characteristic of art deco,” says Widar Halén, director of design and decorative arts at Oslo’s National Museum, which has a glamorous 1931 guilloché on gold-coloured enamel coffee service by Guttorm Gagnes for David-Andersen (a red enamel version was given to President Roosevelt by Crown Prince Olav in 1939). Another fine art deco example of Norwegian guilloché, again by David-Andersen, is available from 20th-century art and design dealer Adam Edelsberg, based in Providence, Rhode Island; the luminous green guilloché and silvercocktail shaker with a rooster design on the lid (£7,849 through 1stdibs) is dated 1935 and comes with four cups. In London, Smith & Robinson Antiques has a c1925 vibrant yellow, lidded silver and enamel guilloché bowl (£2,291) with ring handles and finial.

David-Andersen continued to produce enamelware into the 1950s and 1960s – a pale-green guilloché necklace and earring set from this period is available from Rhinegold Gallery in Düsseldorf for £1,240 through 1stdibs – but there are other names to look out for. “M Johansen is one,” says Eric Beugnet, who runs Oslo‑based dealership ModernTribute and currently has two 10cm painterly enamel plates by the Norwegian craftsman; at NKr2,400 (about £230) for the pair, they are a good starting point for would-be collectors. “Bjorn Engo is perhaps better known,” he adds. “He created enamelware as well as furniture.”

But for collector Bob Corson, a former aerospace engineer living in Washington state, only the finest plique-à-jour will do – with nearly 500 pieces, he probably owns the world’s largest private collection of this refined enamelwork. His favourite piece is his most recent find – “a shot glass with an enamelled holder by Georg Adam Scheid that I found on eBay.” He first discovered Norwegian enamel 50 years ago in a Washington, DC antiques shop. “I saw a small demitasse spoon with a simple finial plique,” he recalls. “It was marked JGK, the mark of Johan G Kjaerland, who worked in Bergen, and it cost $35. I became fixated on plique; of the four major manufacturers, three were Norwegian – Andersen, Hammer and J Tostrup. They were all fine jewellers who turned technologists in their workshops. The enamel is the icing on the cake.”

Masterpiece 2016 Lands Safely

It must have been a tough decision for some dealers as to whether to take part in the London Summer season 2016. With Brexit and all that that encompassed, the 2016 season was always going to assert some form of uncertainty in the market, so the dealers who did exhibit in London recently, were very brave to do so, and for the most part, that bravery seemed to have paid off. Business was done, in fact Didier Ltd., exhibiting at Masterpiece, recorded their most successful Fair to date, and as is always the case at these major events, quality items were selling.

Masterpiece is a spectacular Show, and this year, more than any other year, it just felt for some strange reason, like it really had landed. This was of course a sentiment that was punted out a couple of years ago, but it never really felt that way back then; it did feel that way this year. Now that the UK looks like it could be heading towards an even competitive playing field with the USA, Switzerland and China, Masterpiece is a viable option in the long run, with TEFAF (and the EU for that matter) looking more and more like a dead man walking.

At a time when great wealth seeks safe harbours, Britain’s brexit minimises liabilities recently incurred by the EU such as the impending (again) sovereign loan crises, the migrant crisis, and other proofs that a European superstate (based upon bureaucracy and not rule of law accountable to voters) is a carcinogenic experiment in bloated government. Hopefully the new Tory leadership gets rid of the daffy duck rules such as VAT, ARR and everything that kills jobs and abuses the trust of the market place. ARR for one, which isn’t in America, benefits primarily four disgustingly rich French artist’s estates; Picasso, Leger, Braque and Matisse, and quite frankly, I don’t think we need to be bailing out Marina Picasso’s bar bill at the Ritz anymore. ARR conceived as a payment for creativity, turns into welfare for alcoholic trust fund artists estates.

Masterpiece has stood the test of time, and can only grow in stature. Next year’s event runs from 29 June through to 5 July, with a preview on 28 June. Count on Britain being the safe harbour of years ago, while the incompetence of Europe, centrifuges apart.

Book party welcomes Marc Rosen’s ‘Rubbing Shoulders’

A book-party launch of author Marc Rosen’s Rubbing Shoulders: A Memoir of his Life with Popes, Princes, Moguls and Movie Stars was held March 24 at The Silver Fund, 330 Worth Ave.

Michael James hosted the celebration, which was followed by a dinner hosted by Susan Lloyd. A portion of the proceeds from the book sales will go to the Pratt Institute, where Rosen is a trustee emeritus. Among those attending were Tom Quick, Eles Gillet, Ambassador Ed and Susie Elson, Kit Pannill, Talbott Maxey, Grace Meigher, Mai Harrison and Mark Ackermann.

The next evening, Carla and George Mann, held a private party for Rosen at their home.

Other related events included Jackie Weld Drake hosting a dinner the following week for Rosen, who was interviewed March 31 by former Town and Country editor in chief Pamela Fiori (who wrote the book’s forward) March 31 at The Society of the Four Arts.

See photos from the event.

Silver Fund features rarities from 20th century

The Silver Fund is a unique shop that mixes 20th-century silver, furniture and design.

Michael James founded The Silver Fund in 1996 specializing in the work of Georg Jensen. In addition to an impressive collection of Jensen hollowware, the shop carries silver designed by Jean Puiforcat, William Spratling, Antonio Pineda and many others.

James said he exhibits at art shows worldwide and has had smaller stores in the past, but the Worth Avenue location gives him more space to show off more 20th-century pieces.

“We never had this amount of space before, so we filled it with silver but we’ve mixed it with all the furniture we love and fantastic 20th-century lighting,” James said.

James said he looks for definitive pieces of all kinds. “I don’t care where anything is made as long as it’s got great design and it’s good quality,” James said.

The Silver Fund’s collection includes furniture and decorative arts, dating from the 1950s to the 1970s; nautical and sporting items; art glass, and vintage clocks and jewelry.

Here are a few noteworthy finds:

• An 18-karat-gold money clip ($6,500) signed by Frank Sinatra. The dollar sign design was made by a Miami jeweler and is engraved with the legendary singer’s signature and the word “Thanks.” This item would make a great conversation piece.

• A circa-1930 Champagne cooler ($85,000) made in Portugal by Joalharia do Carmo. This sterling-silver centerpiece features three panels, each with a different Art Deco fish design. James said it is one of the most impressive pieces that he has bought in recent years.

• A circa-1930 sterling-silver tea set ($85,000) made in England by Charles Boyton. The four geometric Art Deco pieces fit together in the form of a wedge. James said this set is incredibly rare. The only other one he knows of is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The Silver Fund, at 330 Worth Ave., is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 629-5153 or visit thesilverfund.com.

Jane Grace charmed at luncheon at The Silver Fund

Apparently all of Palm Beach has contracted a case of the merries because the money is flying around, the stores can’t keep the good bubbly on the shelf, and when people talk about “past due” they’re referring to a day at the Breakers Spa.
And the gatherings for which everybody was “too busy” during the bad old economic days? Well, they’re nonstop.

Even the bankers are happy again. Two of them, Victoria Ricker and Robert Riva of Morgan Stanley, recently hosted a luncheon in honor Jane Grace and her decades of support of and hands-on voluntarism at the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League. The luncheon took place at The Silver Fund, the art/antiques/jewelry/silver store on Worth Avenue, and was co-hosted by store owner Michael James. There was champagne, caviar served on some of the exquisite Georg Jensen sterling pieces – what, you were expecting Corelle? — from the store’s cache, a seated luncheon at tables set with yet more fabulous silver, and the presentation to Jane of a gold charm with the Peggy Adams logo.

Best of all, there was a big fat donation to the League from Morgan Stanley in Jane’s honor.

See? Happy bankers.

There: board president Joanie Van der Grift, board members Pauline Pitt and Vicky Hunt; and Paula Butler, Candy Hamm, Jean Tailer, Kate Pressley, Arlette Gordon, Dale Coudert, Mashi Azmudeh and Susan Lloyd.

Then there was the cocktail reception honoring designers Suzanne Kasler, Gil Walsh, Lars Bolander, Jenny Garrigues, and William and Phyllis Taylor, who were selected to create the “designer vignettes” for the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show. Scott Diament and Campion Platt hosted the kickoff for the show, which opens Feb. 13.

There to raise a glass or two to the honorees were Pamela O’Connor, Nina Wasserman, Michel Cox Witmer, Tatiana Platt and Chelsea Menzies, who are young enough and beautiful enough to know that when somebody talks about a “lovely old thing,” they’re referring to the furniture.

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