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Most were made by a handful of Birmingham smallwork makers, with Levi & Salaman and Adie & Lovekin becoming pin cushion specialists. Both patented increasing numbers of models as the craze for novelty reached its peak in the first decade of the 20th century.

Some silver pin cushions such as chicks, pigs and elephants are relatively easy to find. Others were made in much smaller numbers and can become very pricey.

Salisbury auction house Woolley & Wallis has a fine track record in this field and has sold a number of models for four-figure sums (a Mordan & Co golden pheasant took £1400 in 2017 and a lion by Adie and Lovekin for the same sum in Januaury).

However, the highest auction price in ATG records appears to be a model of a seated camel by Levi & Salaman sold by the Glasgow firm Great Western Auctions for £1900 in 2017.

Exceptional group

An exceptional collection of more than 30 animal pin cushions came for sale at Kinghams (18% buyer’s premium) in Moreton-In-Marsh on March 3. It was part of a larger private consignment of silver and enamel boxes which totalled £49,000.

There were some seldom-seen models here and high prices to match – not least the £1800 for a walking monkey with curled tail by Levi & Salaman, or £1600 and £1300 respectively for a standing polar bear by Cohen & Charles and a rhinoceros by Levi & Salaman. Examples of these have previously sold at Woolley & Wallis for £1400 and £1200 apiece.


Continental giraffe, import marks Berthold Muller, London 1912 – £1400 at Kinghams.

One particularly scarce model sold at £1400 was a giraffe, a continental piece with import marks for Berthold Muller. These and other highlights are pictured here.