English Silver | Rare Silver Charles II Porringer

On 8th October 2014, Lyon & Turnbull offered a classic piece of English silver: a rare porringer dating from the reign of King Charles II. Produced from as early as 1655, porringers continued to be made until 1720. This piece - made in London in 1660 - is a fine example of Restoration silver design and, with a slightly later cover dating to 1667. Though not all porringers were made with covers, surviving examples such as this are rare. This particular piece fetched £5,125 (including premium) at our recent Jewellery & Silver sale on the 8th October 2014.

During the reign of King Charles I (1624-49) silver design was greatly influenced by the Puritans, gradually becoming plainer, less adorned and more functional. This trend for simplicity continued during the Commonwealth and, under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, much silver was melted down for currency. After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, however, silver production was rejuvenated. Following his European exile, Charles II brought a host of new fashions and attitudes to the English court and silver craftsmanship returned to a state of opulence with design becoming increasingly decorative. This period - often referred to as England's "Silver Age" - was marked by a renewed sense of security in which both royalty and the nobility felt free to once again indulge their passion for silver.

In light of this, this particular porringer serves as a high-status item. The naturalistic floral decoration is characteristic of early Restoration silver and reflects the Dutch influence on design at this time. More significantly, the decorations of roses, tulips and daffodils function as a demonstration of social standing, a rare display of exotic flowers not common to Britain at this time. This example, made in 1660 by an unrecorded silversmith only known by his maker's mark of HN with a dove holding an olive branch, is in fine condition with the bold decoration looking as impressive today as it did in the reign of King Charles II.

We are now inviting consignments for our next Jewellery & Silver auction which will take place on the 12th February 2015, if you would like a free, no obligation valuation on your items, please do not hesitate to contact the department.


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