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Chinese Sycee Silver Bracelet

This is the most expressive piece of jewelry in the collection. The stone head with its aged patina… the delicately carved scales of the dragonfish that surround the head …suggest a  story … a story that goes back to the period of the Second Opium War (1856-1860).

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One of the great American experts on objects from the "China trade’ is Carl Crossman… his books are on every collector’s shelf …and for many years he appeared on the PBS Network’s Antiques Road show as an appraiser.

When this bracelet appeared with an unusual mark: SYCEE #23, I searched his book "Decorative Arts of the China Trade" for a remembered paragraph… Crossman describes an ornate Chinese silver ewer with this engraving: "This jug is made from Sycee silver taken from the Chinese at the storming and capture of the Taku Forts, August, 1860." (Sycee is a type of silver ingot).

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Descriptions of the battles at Taku say; "The forts were surrounded by liquid mud and swampland… with deep water courses intersecting it in all directions".

This bracelet suggests water… the silver in the form of two dragonfish that surround the head… a stone that looks like a chunk of mud … the patina of a stone that has been under water or buried.

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The Crossman reference shows that keepsakes were made of Sycee silver from Taku …is it possible this very unusual bracelet is one of them?

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8 Comments

  1. Cathe
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Very informative website! How do you recommend cleaning sycee silver jewelry? Thanks!

  2. Susan
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the compliment! I use a treated soft silver polishing cloth… never dip or remove the patina.

  3. Trudy Purcell
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Hello. Love your collection! I was trying to look up a piece of Sycee jewelry I have and found your site. Do you know anything about a blue necklace, blue glass beads with the same blue large stone framed with an ornate silver and marked on the back Sycee No 23?

  4. Susan
    Posted September 29, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Hello… Sycee refers to the silver content similar to the mark ‘Sterling’ … so it would be impossible to commenet on the necklace itself… but is sounds beautiful!

  5. Brian Johnston
    Posted January 19, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Your collections are stunning. Sycee silver jewelry is amazing. I am also making jewelries and I really appreciate this kind of style and design. I love the photos. Very nice Susan!

  6. david
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    sycee chinese name for silver must be .992 —#23 assay office in tiensen—1872 to 1933 —-assay offices i believe went from 23 to 29

  7. SONJA
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Was given by aunt 30 years ago a sterling clip (approx. 3″ x 1-1/2″ +/-) with three orangish stones (a round in center and two larger semi-circular stones on each side) and designs of hats or ?? on pin with markings china, no 23 , sycee s.c. Unfortunately, thru ignorance a few years ago tried to clean what discovered is oxidation. In reasonably good shape with a few small dents on back.

  8. cindy
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Trudy I have that same necklace. Trying to find out more about any information?

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