Members' Window # 67/1  
by Alan Yates  
click on images to enlarge


The above item was purchased recently at the Olympia Arts and Antique Fair. It is a superb piece, in excellent condition, but unmarked. It was described as 'Silver Bowl. Gilt inside. London, ca 1830. Unmarked'.
It is 32 cm across and weighs 2 kgs (70 oz).
I visited the V & A the following day but could find nothing in the silver collection to assist me to identify it. A very helpful member of staff suggested that I forward images for assistance to the curator of the Silver Dept. of the V&A Museum.

This is the comment kindly formulated by the Curator of V&A Museum:
".... Thank you for your enquiry regarding your spectacular silver purchase.
It is an eclectic mix and I would agree that ca. 1830 would be an appropriate date. The dolphin feet hark back to the early 18th century, as does the embossed bowl and shell border but the elaborate band of lions and vines suggests the early 19th century. The first silversmith that comes to mind when discussing this type of work is Edward Farrell who worked for the Duke of York producing outlandish coolers and candelabra for the royal dining table. Some examples of his work are at the following link.
Farrell's work was influential and contributed towards the flamboyant testimonials and racing trophies presented later in the 19th century. Your bowl may well be by someone who had seen Farrell's work.
Its small size suggests it probably was not a wine cooler - the prominent u-shaped recesses on the shell border lip make me wonder if it is in fact a monteith for cooling glasses. I think it is probably English although the lions have a slightly eastern elongation to them.
It is unusual that the object is not marked - perhaps it was meant as a sample and not for retail...."

I also rather like the possibility of Edward Farrell being the maker but I'm not convinced. Although the interior is gilt, the three joins (between bowl and 1/2 " concave band, concave band and repousse band of lions, and band of lions and shell border lip) are not well done on the interior of the piece, especially the lowest joint. There are also four vertical joins in the band of lions - again noticeable from the inside - at each of the four cartouches (both sides and both ends).
There is a crest in the two side cartouches comprising a lion rampant with cross between front paws. Both end cartouches are vacant.
I have searched the 'band of lions' for evidence of erased marks but to no avail. I mention this because I am concerned that the article may in fact be a made-up piece.

The item comes from the Olympia Arts and Antique fair of this year. It was described as London ca 1830.
But have you or any other member ever seen another piece of unmarked Regency silver?
I suggest not. Hence the mystery.

Any suggestion, addition or comment will be highly appreciated.
Alan Yates
- 2009 -