Design & Decoration S04 ep7 : Lewis Smith, Koopman Silver, [London]

Interview with Lewis Smith

Koopman Rare Art grew from the 1993 merger of E & C.T. Koopman & Son and Rare Art London. Historically, we have put together some of the most prestigious antique silver collections of the last sixty years. Most famously the Al Tajir Collection, the Packer Collection and the A.H. Whiteley Trust Collection, to name a few. We have also been working side by side and supplying many museums worldwide. These include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Victoria & Albert Museum, London; The Indianapolis Museum of Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Art Gallery of South Australia; the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology, Oxford; the Royal College of Physicians; and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, amongst others. The company is well-known for holding one of London's largest stocks of top quality English silver . Of particular note would be the work of Robert Garrard , Paul Storr , and Paul De Lamerie , but this is far from the limit of our specialisation. In 2005 we held a unique exhibition on Rundell Bridge and Rundell. Following on from this success we held an exhibition in 2010 called "The Classical Ideal". Both of these events were combined with a charitable event to help firstly The Princes Trust and then The Sir John Soane's Museum.


Koopmann Rare Art is a firm of silver dealers. We specialize in antique English silver from
1570 through to about 1950. We also do this to trade, as well as to major collectors and

They have been mystical events in the firm, since it began fifty years ago. We specialize in
silver, that's our main specialty, but we also trade in very familiar French silver, particularly
Emperor French silver,we did Dutch silver because that's our origin, that's a small part of our
business, but the most important thing is, is it the best? Is it top quality? Is it great design?
Many, if it satisfies all those things, tick our boxes and we're interested. 01: 45

My uncle is a silver dealer. I started when I was very young going to Posvera Road and buying
little of things and he took me along and he was a great teacher.Jack Koopmann who was the
most incredible man was a teacher and a great dealer. He had a great understanding of business,
he had a great understanding and he taught me to love what I was looking at. 02:12

Henry Dunay Jewellery

He was very generous and he had an instinct. Now that instinct, which is special, only comes to
certain people and you can't teach it. But he had a passion and working for him, I got to see him
handle, the most amazing things. 02:37

The difference in quality and the difference in what people perceive to be top quality is a big
issue. What was regarded as great 1985 is not as great in 2010 or12, but the thing that's great
and make the biggest difference is knowledge and people could look things up, they can get on
the internet, they can discover, they can start to learn and therefore you have to use the
knowledge that they gain and you gain, in order to determine what is good today. Fashion
changes, there are some things which were very exciting and saleable in1985, which I wouldn't
even consider putting in stock today.03:25

Local Paris, to me, hot subject. They had the skill, they had imagination, they had the time and
the money that was available, the economy was doing very well in the UK, in England and there
were some very wealthy people, Loogan Grantles, Gedde Graya rtist out of Paris, out of France,
out of Italy, coming back and allowing themselves to really own and create things that hadn’t
even been seen before. 04:00

Henry Dunay Jewellery

Paul De Lamerie was probably the most important one of the lot. He was famous in 19th
century, famous at the time and famous today. Paul De Lamerie retired in 1751. 1730 to 1750
and that was the great time for silver. You know the most amazing things from the late, fresh,
real fresher. I mean the Norwegians period was another great period of time. Huge amounts of
wealth, battle of the now celebration of the strength of England. So those two periods saw
inspirational silver being made and so it survived. It survived because it's good design, it's
about, it's well made and it survived because people still desire it. 04:47

Garrards and Asprey were major client to us. We grew up selling to the trade and we had certain
top private clients but we sell to the trade and Garrards were a major player for us. 05:05

Henry Dunay Jewellery

This is the Walpole’s stand.There are two of these in the world. The other one's at the Bank of
England. It's made in 1729, for Walpole and as Prime Minster he was an important character.
The asking price for this was five million US dollars and this has been sold to an American

The Provenance is Paul De Lamerie, the great silversmith individual were earlier,1729.
Walpole, you know there are two of them in the world, the other one is in the Bank of England,
you can't buy that one for five million dollars, the condition in there, it was always important
thing and therefore, it's been well looked after.05:52

Henry Dunay Jewellery

Well we had some wonderful Candleabras which were George Wicks from the great silversmith
made in 1744 and we had some greats for our store, who was one of our favorite silversmiths
who worked for Vanda bridge in London and made fantastic things between 1800 and

I use to spend half my time buying, half my time selling. I would say I spend eighty per cent of
my time searching for objects at this point.16:27

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Lewis Smith, Koopman Silver, London