A rare early English sterling silver porringer with decorative caryatid handles. Small size. Excellent colour. The plain body has an embossed band of acanthus leaf and fish scale decoration. To the front are the prick initials “EW”.
Weight 58 grams, 1.8 troy ounces.
Height 5 cm, 5.5 cm to top of handle. Spread across handles 11.3 cm. Diameter 7 cm.
Marked underneath with the makers mark “SH” within a heart shaped shield, probably Samuel Hawkes (*see David Mitchell’s book on “Silversmiths in Stuart and Elizabethan England”).
Literature: Porringers are two handled bowls and some have a cover. They can also be known as caudle cups although the origin of the porringer was for porridge and the caudle cup was for a type of broth. From the eighteenth century onwards, porringers and cups and covers were used mainly as centrepieces or ornaments. In recent times they have seen a resurgence in popularity for drinking and on the dining table. They make a very attractive baby gift.
* 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 1681. All records were destroyed in the fire at Goldsmiths Hall in that year when the Assay Office and apartments of the Assayer and Clerk in the south west wing of the building were burned down. 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).
Samuel Hawkes, London silversmith, apprenticed to John Bracey 1657, turned over to John Gray 1658, free 1666. His “SH mark within a shield” is recorded on articles from the period 1679-1691. His Britannia mark as largeworker was entered in 1697. Elected to Livery 1682, assistant in 1694, Touchwarden 1704, Third Warden 1710, Second Warden 1711. Died June 1711.