Antique Charles I Silver Wine Taster

Date: 1634

Maker: Thomas Maundy

Country: England

Stock Number: 8190

A rare and very beautiful 17th century sterling silver dish with pretty little shell side handles. Although rather shallow, this is more probably a wine taster than a sweetmeat dish. The embossed decoration has 8 segments containing scroll and other motifs. The centre is embossed with concentric prick dot circles containing flowers; inside there are 4 leaves and a shield shaped cartouche with scratched initials "TO" over "EF" to the reverse . Weight 95 grams, 3 troy ounces. Width across handles 18.35 cm. Diameter 11.6 cms. English silver hallmarks stamped around the edge for London 1634. Maker Thomas Maundy* (Jacksons P.119).

Literature: The saucer shaped taster was already in use as early as the 14th century BC in Minoan Crete and has been essential in the production of wine right through to the present time. It is used by the sommelier to determine a wine's quality by assessing the color, clarity, bouquet and taste. The majority of wine tasters in existence are French. The owners often engraved their name on the taster whose single flat handle often accommodated a neck cord. Very few English wine tasters were made because wine was not a national product however a number were produced during a short period in the second half of the 17th century. These English examples are rare and anything after this date is even rarer. The early English examples were in the shape of a flat bowl, often with simple wire handles (these often have original rough soldering which can appear "blobby").

Signed/Inscribed: *It is unusual to have a makers name for a piece of silver of this early date as there are no precise records of silver makers' marks prior to 1697. All records were destroyed in the fire at Goldsmiths Hall in 1681 when the Assay Office and apartments of the Assayer and Clerk in the south west wing of the building were burned down. From 1697 onwards Goldsmiths Hall has preserved a complete record of workmens's marks, addresses, together with their names and the dates. Sometimes the details of makers can be discovered from old records such as the inventories of noble houses and other institutions.

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