Pair of Antique Ceremonial Maces in Old Sheffield Plate

Date: 1830

Country: England

Stock Number: 7831

A rare pair of antique ceremonial maces with detachable wooden poles. The silvered globular tops are mounted with very heavy and ornate gilded top pieces decorated with dolphins and with a cross at the top. Height of top pieces 12.5 cms and 15 cms. Height when assembled 87.5 cms and 101 cms. Length of poles 75 cms. Made in Old Sheffield Plate*. Circa 1830.

Literature: The ceremonial mace is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood, carried before a sovereign or other high official in civic ceremonies by a mace-bearer, intended to represent the official's authority. The mace, as used today, derives from the original mace used as a weapon. Processions often feature maces, as on parliamentary or formal academic occasions. The ceremonial mace was used as a symbol of authority of military commanders.

The earliest ceremonial maces were practical weapons intended to protect the king's person, borne by the Sergeants-at-Arms, a royal bodyguard established in France by Philip II, and in England probably by Richard I. By the 14th century, these sergeants' maces had started to become increasingly decorative, encased in precious metals. The mace as a real weapon went out of use with the disappearance of heavy armour.

*Old Sheffield plate was a process used in Georgian times to make articles from a sheet of copper fused with a thin sheet of sterling silver. This process predates the silver plating done today (electroplating) which started in the 1840s. The majority of these silverwares were made in Sheffield, UK (hence the term Old Sheffield plate) which was a major UK centre for silver production.

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