At a recent visit to the Goldsmith’s Company I had the pleasure of holding and examining the earliest silver item in their collection and one of the earliest pieces of fully marked secular plate. Found in the roof of St Andrew’s Church, Middleton, Yorkshire, and subsequently purchased by the Company in 1976, it is a silver cup made in 1493 with partial gilt traces, measuring 13.7 cm tall and with a maker’s mark of an escallop below a batón and a leopards head.
Silver items dating from long ago are extremely rare. Aristocratic families often kept as much as thirty per cent of their wealth in their silverware and when money was short these silver items were simply melted down. During the English civil war in the middle of the 17th century a vast amount of English silver was melted to pay the troops, making silver from prior to this date extremely rare.
In the Hersey Collection you will find a large silver tumbler cup 65mm tall and with a gilded interior.