RCB auctions a wide variety of antique metalwork from Thailand, Southeast Asia, and China. We regularly receive consignments of beautiful metalware that are high quality artistic pieces with historical significance. Although our specialists work mostly with metalware within the East, we do on occasion auction metalwork from around the world.



Historically silver was used worldwide to display one’s wealth and status. Likewise, early Thai silver was initially reserved for royals and aristocrats in the Ayutthaya period (Siamese Kingdom that existed in Southeast Asia from 1350 to 1767). No surprise then that Thai silverware is of the finest workmanship, only produced for members of the nobility. These items consist of ceremonial pieces, religious pieces, royal regalia, and items commissioned as diplomatic gifts. By the early 19th century (Rattanakosin period), the Thai economy flourished and members of nobility increased. Silver production became more utilitarian with products including betel sets, betel cutters, trays, bowls, salve boxes, vases, utensils, walking sticks handles, teapots, and accessories. Silverware across Southeast Asia and Thailand share similar artistry, likely influence by a multicultural exchange and religious influences from South Asia. Certain pieces of Burmese, Malay, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Thai silverware are almost indistinguishable, meaning that a specialist is required to classify origins and techniques.


Nielloware ‘Khruang Thom’

The origins of nielloware in Thailand is unknown. It's thought that Thai silversmiths picked up the technique from the Portuguese or Persian during the Ayutthaya period. Thai silversmiths perfected the technique, making it a classic form of Thai art. Traditional Thai niello production is labor-intensive and dangerous, making nielloware a highly valued art form. Thai Silversmiths engrave intricate patterns on silver or gold surfaces, then using niello (metal alloys of copper, lead and sliver) to fill the background. It is then fused with heat to make the item seamless. Thai niello comes in three variations: silver niello, gold niello, and a mixture of both silver and gold. Much like fine silverware, Thai nielloware was exclusively produced for the Thai royal palace and owned by nobles as a medium to signify status. As a result, Thai nielloware includes the same range of products as Thai silverware. Niello, however, indicated a higher rank than silver.



Bronze usages date back many centuries, used by early civilizations for tools and weapons. Bronze usage in Thailand and Southeast Asia is believed to fall between 1500 and 1000 BC, laying the foundations of metalwork in the subcontinent. During the Sukhothai period, artistic works made of bronze surged, influenced by China. The earliest record of Thai craftsmen using bronze as a creative medium is around the 10th century. Their techniques are used by family traders to this day.


Cloisonné Enameled

The French term, cloisonné means ‘partitions’, a technique that starts with a molded metal base, shaped copper wire designed in elaborate patterns attached to the base, and then filled with colour enamels. It is then fired, polished, and coated. This practice originated from ancient civilizations, and through multicultural interactions, it has been adopted by cultures around the world. At RCB, we often auction Chinese cloisonné which is prized for its high quality. Introduced to China in the Yuan Dynasty, cloisonné enameled items gained popularity in the Ming Dynasty, the royal family exclusively owning cloisonné. Since then, Chinese artisans have made developments in perfecting the technique in eastern styles.