Antique James I Silver Wine Cup


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Object Description

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).

Object Literature

Wine goblets in English silver were made from 1600 onwards until the latter part of the century when glass goblets came into normal use. There was a resurgence in silver wine cup production between 1760 and 1820. The form of the wine cup is distinct from that of church chalices of the same period.

Object Condition

This substantial antique silver cup is in very good condition with no damage or apparent restoration. Heavy weight and silver gauge. Superb colour. Fully marked underneath the rim and lion marked under the foot just as you’d expect for a cup of this age. The rim marks are a bit rubbed, hardly surprising after 400 years of use, however they can be easily identified as:
“V” date letter for 1617
leopards head
lion sterling mark
makers mark “FS” or “SF” – see Jacksons page 107
The chalice has been tested for water retention and does not leak.

Please note that this item is not new and will show moderate signs of wear commensurate with age. Reflections in the photograph may detract from the true representation of this item

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)207 288 1939
+44 (0)7904 297419

Dealer Location

Vault 31-32
The London Silver Vaults
53-64 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1QS

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