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International Code of Signals


From the late 1800s through to the 1930s, luxury makers exploited the interest for life on the ocean, by creating silverware including flasks, lighters and cigarette cases, featuring the International Code of Signals as a novel way of dedicating a gift, by spelling out initials or personal messages. Three fine examples of this genre (clockwise from top image);

A Sterling silver hipflask by Tiffany, with a convex back and curved face with greeting message ‘SWT HEART’ (sic) spelt out to the front in applied signal flags, in bright cloisonné enamel. Signed TIFFANY & Co. 925-1000 to the base. American, circa 1925.

Height: 6½ inches (16 cm).

REFERENCE: 4373
Price Code: ££

A superb and early Sterling silver and enamel cigarette case, the deep case with top-hinged lid is enamelled with 4 enamel commercial code flag symbols (used from 1857-1900) denoting the letters ‘V,S,M and F’, the gilded interior with original elastics bears Chester hallmarks for 1896 and has a bespoke burgundy glazed calfskin case.

Height: 3½ inches (9 cm).

REFERENCE: 6347
Price Code: ££

A fine Sterling silver money clip in the form of a Dollar sign, with three applied enamel plaques denoting ‘F M C’, most likely spelling out the initials of the commissioner or recipient of the piece. American, circa 1930.

Length: 1½ inches (4 cm).

REFERENCE: 6002
Price Code: £

Reference: 4373,6347,6002

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