Silver filigree is the manufacture of artistic objects using fine wire, usually silver, but sometimes also gold or base metals. With fine movements and a great deal of patience the jeweller turns the filigree wire into jewellery or other objects according to his fancy, the fashion at the time , or to clients’ specifications.
Silver filigree is manufactured in various countries, particularly where manual work is not well paid, as the output is always limited because items in this trade is strictly hand manufactured.
However here we are concerned with items made of filigree made in Malta.
This trade goes back many centuries. The most common items seen are items that can be identified with the island of Malta, such as the eight pointed cross which was and still is incorporated in jewellery like brooches and pendants, decorative items like the Maltese dghajsa, letter openers, sugar tongs, or the Maltese cabby, and also usable items like trays and card cases. The latter is a favoured collector’s item with collectors of Maltese silver.
Maltese card cases come in three main shapes. The commonest one is rectangular with straight borders. These are usually late 19th century although they were still manufactured in the early 20th century.
Another notable item is the waisted card case which, invariably 19th century. The card cases with rounded edges were by and large 20th century. All these cases incorporated the eight pointed cross at least on one side, and some, though not all, were hallmarked. The denser the design the more desirable is the case. Below are examples of the straight-edged, and waisted Maltese silver filigree card cases.