Monday, June 25, 2007

British Silver - Restoration 1660 - 1697

The Protectorate headed by Cromwell broke down in 1659 and it was decided to restore the monarchy. Charles II came to the throne in 1600. This is where the term Restoration originates in regard to British history.

At this time London was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe and also a major port. Traders and manufacturers were extending their activities in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Foreign visitors and returning exiles brought new ideas to England.

The monarchy set themselves a luxurious lifestyle that was copied by other nobles and wealthy families. The resulting huge demand on production of silverware began to impact on the supply of silver for the mint and some unscrupulous people practiced coin clipping, to provide a supply of silver for other items.

The lighter gauges of silver still used continue to be embossed with designs derived from the Netherlands. Floral motifs were very popular amid scrolled and spiraling foliage. Occasionally animals were included in the design.

The baroque style from Europe is evident for a short period, it had virtually disappeared from England by 1670, and this consisted of lobular scroll of indefinite form and the appearance of grotesque masks of human and animal form.

Many Huguenot goldsmiths came to England in this period and they had an influence on the designs of the day. We see the chinoiserie style, influenced from the Orient; we also see simplicity in tankards, tumblers, cups and spoons and in the silverware for churches.

Two handled cups and covers continue to be popular. The caudle cup is gourd shaped, beaten from thin metal and embossed with floral styles. It has a domed cover and small horizontal flange. The handles are cast in various shapes.

The porringer is a more substantial cup with an almost flat bottom that is supported on a shallow moulded base. Covers tend to be stepped and slightly domed with a finial in the form of a baluster; some covers can be found with three cast feet that enables it to be inverted for use as a salver.

Wine cups are being replaced by crystal glasses but were still produced in silver. Beakers were also made along with single handled mugs. Tumbler cups, produced from a single piece of metal, beaten so that the base is heavy and returns the tumbler to the upright position were also popular.

Tankards continue to be popular with the most common holding a quart measure; many are quite plain in design.

Monteiths appear, these being a large variety of punch bowl with a scalloped edge from which glasses can be hung by their base.

The world of trade introduces tea, coffee and chocolate, leading to the production of vessels specifically designed for these products.

The first teapot resembled the coffee pots of today, being a tall tapering cylinder with a conical cover. Tea was mainly made in porcelain teapots and these could be purchased on most London streets by 1669. The first traditional melon shaped silver teapot with wooden handle appeared between 1669 and 1679 and was made by Charles Shelley.

Coffee pots and chocolate pots appeared, similar to each other in design, the chocolate pot being smaller and having a second smaller cover on top of the principal cover.

Ewers and basins were made but more for decoration since the fork had now been introduced to England and this reduced the need to wash ones hands at the table.

Three pronged forks were produced and cutlery sets were made for travelers, these being smaller than the table version and consisting of a knife, fork and spoon in a small case.

Candlesticks, snuffers, taper sticks and wall sconces can also be found from this period.

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