Instead, it is a random collection, perhaps demonstrating the type of pieces that were in circulation on the Portuguese market at the time of their acquisition, whilst also illustrating the personal taste of the institution’s founder.
Although they have traditionally been credited with various origins, most of the pieces were actually acquired by the founder of the Museu do Caramulo, whilst later acquisitions were sponsored by a wide range of individuals, who, due to their personal acquaintance with Abel de Lacerda, were willing to finance these purchases for the museum.
The concern was therefore not so much one of creating a coherent museum section. Instead, care was taken to acquire a series of pieces of greater or lesser quality and varying degrees of interest, although possibly, in the opinion of Abel de Lacerda, they might be of interest only for him.
In this section, there is undoubtedly a common feature of small references to imaginary or surreal features, just as we can see in the 16th-century salver (cat. 348), which was practically ignored until recent times. Not only because of its interesting decoration, but also because it belonged to a series of identical pieces that have since become scattered throughout various Portuguese and foreign institutions, as well as amongst private collections, this salver is undoubtedly the most distinctive piece in this collection of silverware.
We also draw attention to another smaller salver from the late 17th or early 18th century (cat. 349), which can still carry us off into the realms of the imagination with its central medallion, in which one can see a fantastic hybrid animal. Also in the area of civil silverware, we further highlight an 18th-century ewer (cat. 346) made by one of the great Lisbon manufacturers. Another extremely interesting object is an embossed silver coffee-pot (cat. 340) with a spout, on which, once again, a fantastic animal is represented, and whose turned wooden handle completes its lower end in the form of a hand with lace cuffs, this latter feature lending a sophisticated and surreal air to the piece. Its bilge is engraved with a coat of arms that has been traditionally attributed to a Genoese family, the Paccelis. The civil silverware section also contains a silver canteen from the second half of the 19th century (cat. 341), simple in its form and decoration, which consists of some fictitious coats of arms and a light engraving of brambles very much in keeping with 19th-century taste; and, finally, a small pot whose handles have the shape of entwined serpents and seem to indicate the medicinal purposes for which this piece was intended to be used (cat. 344).
Amongst a small group of silverware pieces designed for use in churches, we can find a silver crown decorated with typical 17th-century flower-baskets (cat. 347), a thurible in the shape of a cutaway and pierced sphere with a decoration composed of embossed and pierced palmettes and rosettes (cat. 339), bearing the mark of an early 18th-century Lisbon manufacturer (M.A. L-444), as well as a small silver picture frame dating from the 17th century, which contains a miniature of St. Barbara (cat. 332). Finally, attention should be drawn to a small group of Spanish silverware pieces, consisting of an early 18th-century altar cross, whose exuberant floral motifs are its most prominent feature (cat. 337) and a cylindrical pyx with a small temple and cross at the top (cat. 338). This group seems to indicate an attempt to make inroads into areas beyond the national borders.
Although it is not possible to find a coherent link that unites this set of pieces, an analysis of the group as a whole allows us to conclude that the choice of religious silverware was governed by a more traditional taste, whilst the choice of civil pieces was bolder and, in particular, paid more attention to questions of quality and interest.