A rare early English sterling silver goblet dating to the reign of James I. 400 years old and in very good condition. Plain tapering form over a baluster column and simple pedestal foot. This cup is an outstanding piece of antique silver in every way. Large size. Excellent patina. Heavy weight and gauge of silver. Fully marked in a straight line just below the rim and has the lion passant and scratch weight on the underside of the foot. Charming hand beaten finish as you’d expect from this period. Contains 500 ml. Weight 306 grams, 9.8 troy ounces. Height 20 cms. Diameter of top 10.7 cms. London 1617. Makers mark either “FS” or “SF”, a known cup maker of the period – see Jacksons page 107, probably Francis Saunders free c.1608 (attribution by Dr David Mitchell in “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”).
It is unusual to have a maker’s name for a piece of silver of this early date as there are no precise records of silver makers’ marks prior to 1697. All records were destroyed in the fire at Goldsmiths Hall in 1681 when the Assay Office and apartments of the Assayer and Clerk in the south west wing of the building were burned down. From 1697 onwards Goldsmiths Hall has preserved a complete record of workmen’s marks, addresses, together with their names and the dates. Sometimes the details of makers can be discovered from old records such as the inventories of noble houses and other institutions.
The first surviving record at Goldsmiths Hall is the 1682 copper plate made to start the recording process again. This has recently prompted a study by Dr David Mitchell, supported by Goldsmiths Hall, resulting in the publication of his 2017 “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. This reference work identifies previously unknown makers marks and assigns marks struck on existing plate to individuals (attributions for 540 separate marks).