Nathaniel Mills


Nathaniel Mills was a skilled silversmith working from Birmingham in the early 19th century. Registering his mark with the Birmingham assay office at 1825, Mills quickly became known for luxurious Victorian souvenir silverware, much of his work depicting British landmarks and scenes. After his death in 1843, the business was succeeded by Mills' sons Nathaniel II, William and Thomas, who continued to produce exceptional pieces until 1853.

Working with silver and silver gilt finishes, Nathaniel Mills created exquisitely detailed and often embossed card cases, vinaigrettes, sweetmeat dishes, snuff boxes, wine labels, posy holders, and flasks. Most famously known for these scenic 'castle-top' cases and boxes that were wildly popular in the Victorian times, Nathaniel Mills is a silversmith who is often collected and sought-after by bidders at auction. 


Castle-Top Silver

Originating in Birmingham in the early 19th century, 'Castle-Top' silver was initially created by toy-makers looking to extend their novelty offering. By engraving or die-stamping boxes, cases and vinaigrettes with British landmarks or scenery, Birmingham's skilled craftsmen were able to capitalise on the ever-growing tourism of the time. Castle-top silver examples have been found depicting a huge variety of scenes from all corners of the United Kingdom, with the auction record achieved for 'The Post Office, Dublin' by Alfred Taylor, and 'Eddistone Lighthouse' by Nathaniel Mills, each reaching in excess of £9,000. These charming silver and silver gilt souvenir pieces were purchased by Victorians who were able to travel the country more than ever before thanks to the expansion of the railway system throughout the early 19th century. 

Nathaniel Mills silver castle top vinaigrette

A Victorian silver castle-top snuff box by Nathaniel Mills, depicting Kenilworth Castle in Birmingham. Sold for £660.  


Castle-Top silver was produced mainly out of Birmingham by silversmiths such as Nathaniel Mills, Edwin Jones, William Phillips, David Pettifer, Taylor & Perry, Joseph Taylor, George Unite, George Bower and Son, Joseph Willmore, Samuel Pemberton, Edward Smith, Matthew Linwood, Charles Deakin, and Yapp and Woodward. Nathaniel Mills was by far the most prolific and largely the most highly valued maker of all the Castle-Top silversmiths in this field. Scenes can include estates, castles, town halls, lighthouses, ruins, country houses, and even railway related motifs. The more unusual the scene, the more sought-after by collectors. Contact our specialist team for a free auction valuation of your Castle-Top sivler. 


Whether you have an individual silver item, or a whole collection of silver, our specialist team can help you to achieve the very best price for your items at auction. Our specialist silver auctions include four Fine & Classic Sales per year. For a free, confidential, and up-to-date auction valuation of your collection, contact our specialist team.

Contact our qualified specialist Liz Bailey for a free, confidential and up-to-date auction valuation.


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Maker's Marks 


Nathaniel Mills hallmarks

N.M within a rectangular surround.


Nathaniel Mills vinaigrette


Liz Bailey


Department Specialist

+44 (0)1270 623878

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