A rare early English antique silver caudle cup with cast serpent shaped side handles. Dating to the first year of the Restoration period, the cup retains the more austere decoration associated with the Commonwealth period but also has the engraved tulip decoration more typical of the Stuart period. Good colour. An attractive feature is the base decoration reminiscent of wine tasters of this period. There is a crest engraved to the front and initials and a date to the reverse.
Weight 111 grams, 3.5 troy ounces.
Spread 12.5cm. Diameter 8.1cm. Height 7cm.
Maker probably Gilbert Shepherd – ref. Jackson’s “Silver & Gold Marks” and Dr Mitchell’s “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. A very historic piece.
The porringer has marriage initials engraved in prick dots “RW” over “SW” with the slightly later date of 1675. The “RW” has been later overwritten with the engraved initials “EN”. Also, to the left of the silver hallmarks the number “16“ can be seen faintly, possibly the date 1675 again.
The Commonwealth was the Puritan period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales, later along with Ireland and Scotland, were ruled as a republic following the end of the Second English Civil War and the trial and execution of Charles I. The monarchy was restored in 1660 with the coronation of Charles II. Silver from this period is very rare.
Fire at Goldsmiths Hall. 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).
Gilbert Shepherd, London silversmith, Apprenticed to William Tyler 1623, free 1631. Died 1667 and his widow Jane Shepherd continued the business for several years. His mark is seen on many cups and porringers of the period 1754-1663.