Chancery Lane Antiques, which was founded in the fall of 1995, is the outgrowth of a lifetime interest in antique silver. Doris Matthews' mother was in "the business" back in the fifties. Her mother and father started the silver collection at Cheekwood, a local museum. He was president of the English Speaking Union here. When owner Doris Matthews discovered her first pair of Matthew Boulton Old Sheffield salts in England in the late 1950s, a personal passion was born. A summer in London as the guest of a local silver dealer secured her budding interest in Georgian silver especially by Hester Bateman and Paul Storr. Fostered further by the tutelage of her parents, Cornelia and Russell Speights, well-known Nashville collectors, the enthusiastic young Matthews added to her first piece during ensuing travels abroad and went on to minor in art history at Vanderbilt University.
Through the years, she nurtured this interest in antiquities by serving as a docent in local museums in cities where she lived, and at the same time she built an important collection in her own right. Upon returning to Nashville in 1995, Matthews found a growing interest in antiques and received numerous requests from individuals and dealers to select pieces for them during her travels. In response to this need for professional assistance in choosing unusual heirlooms for important gifts and personal collectors, Matthews decided to transform her long-standing avocation into a vocation.
Named after the location of the famed silver vaults in London, Chancery Lane Antiques specializes in fine antique silver as well as unique small antiques of tortoiseshell, ivory, mother of pearl and shagreen from the British Isles. The collection includes pieces from England and Scotland produced during the years 1650 - 1970. Matthews believes that everyone - traditionalist or modernist, neophyte or sophisticate - should be able to "celebrate the present with a gift from the past." Accordingly, the wide variety of merchandise is selected to suit diverse tastes and budgets.
The hand-selected collection features a wealth of delightful treasures, comprising gifts for ladies, gentlemen, newlyweds, graduates and newborns. Gentleman's gifts include antique meerschaum pipes, snuff boxes made of horn, sterling, tortoiseshell or exotic nuts, desk sets, horn beakers, studs and links, watch fobs, and vesta (match boxes). For the ladies, there are vinaigrettes, evening purses, toiletry bottles, mirror and brush sets as well as scent bottles. Newlyweds will appreciate such keepsakes as sterling water pitchers, marriage cups, carving, fish and fruit sets of ivory, mother of pearl, bone and an outstanding selection of Old Sheffield Plate. And for new babies, there are Georgian silver spoons, mugs, pushers, christening sets and napkin rings.
"I have been gratified by the immediate and tremendous response to our offerings of fine silver and jewelry, all of which are hand-selected, hand-wrought and hand-engraved," says Matthews. "Increasingly, our clientele is coming to appreciate the aesthetic and economic value of high-quality antiques and to share in the important process of preserving and passing down these irreplaceable treasures."
Despite growing demand, Matthews intends to keep her collection small in order to continue to offer personal selection and service. With these goals in mind, she recently closed her Belle Meade showroom to concentrate on her well-known website:
www.chancerylane.com and her new appraisal website www.chancerylaneappraisals.com.
See her items featured in articles about Old Sheffield Plate found in Traditional Home Oct. 2005 and Martha Stewart Living Nov. 2006. Voters at Citysearch.com recently honored Chancery Lane Antiques as the best source for antiques in the Nashville area.