William & Mary Antique Silver Plates

GBP 23,500.00

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Object Description

A fantastically rare set of 12 early English antique silver plates of plain design with reeded borders. Each has a hand engraved coat of arms on the top border (3 plates also have a marital coat of arms on the reverse edge – very worn). Lovely patina.

Weight 6,168g, 198 troy oz.
Diameter 24.4cm (outside rim), 16.9cm (inside rim).
London 1685-91.
Makers John Cruttall and Ralph Leake.
Sterling silver

Note. All 12 plates are identical in terms of size and decoration and all bear a coat of arms for the Marquess of Tweeddale. The original two plates are dated 1685, the maker’s mark is badly stamped but is probably for Ralph Leake, a known platemaker of the period. It is likely that a further 4 plates were commissioned to match in 1689 made by John Cruttall (two plates have no maker’s mark so this is just a theory). The final 6 plates, also by John Cruttall, were made in 1691.

Marks. Eleven plates bear a full set of clear English silver hallmarks on the reverse side, 1 plate is unmarked. 2 plates have the “RL” (partially stamped) mark for Ralph Leake. 8 plates have the “IC” maker’s mark for John Cruttell. Both attributions are by Dr David Mitchell in “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. 2 plates have no maker’s mark.
2 plates – maker RL, London 1685 (James II period)
2 plates – maker IC, London 1689 (arms also on reverse).
1 plate – no maker (IC?), London 1689 (arms also on reverse).
1 plate – unmarked (probably maker IC, London 1689)
6 plates – maker IC, London 1691

Arms. Motto “Spare Nought”.

The Marital Arms of Hay, Earl of Tweeddale and Scott (on the underside) are for John Hay (1626-1697), the 2nd Earl of Tweeddale (later the 1st Marquess of Tweeddale) who married Lady Jean Scott, the second daughter of 1st Earl of Buccleuch and Lady Mary Hay on 4th September 1644. John was elevated to Marquess on 17th December 1694.

During the War of the Three Kingdoms, John repeatedly changed sides from the Royalist party to that of the Parliamentarians. Upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, he was appointed Lord President of the Scottish Council in 1663 and an Extraordinary Lord of Session in 1664. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1689 and served as the Lord Chancellor of Scotland from 1692 to 1696. Lord Tweeddale supported the Glorious Revolution in Scotland, and was created Marquess of Tweeddale in the Peerage of Scotland on the 17th December 1694. John also served as the Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland from 1694 to 1696.

The Arms of Hay, Marquess of Tweeddale (on the upper rim). The 1st Marquess was created in 1694 and these arms will have been engraved subsequent to this date.

Maker: Ralph Leake/John Cruttall

Ralph Leake/John Cruttall

Both were London silversmiths working during the second half of the 1700’s.

Ralph Leake (or Leeke), London silversmith, apprenticed to plateworker Thomas Littleton 1664, free 1671. Not much is known about this fine 17th century silversmith however at some point he was working for the King’s goldsmith Sir Robert Goldsmith and he also worked with Sir Christopher Wren. He was active in the Goldsmiths Company during this career, being appointed to Livery 1685, serving as Renter Warden 1698, becoming Assistant 1703 and serving as Touch Warden 1713.

Leake left a legacy of fine silverwares, many of which are on show in museums and galleries worldwide such as:
1. silver gilt chalice and paten dated 1683-1684 in the V & A collection.
2. The Royal Hospital Chelsea has a collection of magnificent silver-gilt altar plate hall-marked 1687-8 by Ralph Leake.
3. French fountain in the Getty Museum
4. Two wine cisterns – one in the V & A, the other belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company
5. The Marquess of Winchester’s Cup, one of the outstanding pieces of the Winchester College Collection.

John Cruttall, London silversmith, apprenticed to Francis Harris 1647, turned over to Daniel Rutty 1652, free 1655. During his career Cruttall bound 18 apprentices of whom 7 became free this unusually large number signifies a very active workshop. Described by David Mitchell as “a skilled as well as honest plateworker” Cruttall was employed by the goldsmith-banker Sir Stephen Evance (who subsequently became Jeweller to the King and was knighted). Cruttall died circa 1695.

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Object Literature

These dishes very often came from grand houses and have finely executed coats of arms.
Pre 1700. Very few dinner plates remain from the pre 1700 period, and sets of 12 are virtually non-existent. Michael Clayton mentions in “Silver & Gold of Great Britain and North America” that only two known late 17th century sets survive – “one set of twenty-four (1688) and one set of a dozen (1685). The Corporation of Oxford possesses twelve plates (6 unmarked) of 1687”.
Post 1700. From the year 1700 onwards a growing number of sets are found. Dinner plates were usually made in dozens and larger quantities and often came as part of a suite of dishes including soup plates, oval serving plates and mazerines.

Object Condition

The plates are very good condition with wear consistent with age. The armorial engravings on the top rim are still sharp with a little wear. Interestingly 3 plates also have the coat of arms on the reverse edge (these are very worn and were possibly stamped rather than engraved). There are a few minor dinks present, light scratching and wear from use which has not been polished away.

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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