William and Mary Silver Nutmeg Grater

Date: Circa 1690

Maker: Mary Elliott

Country: England


A William and Mary teardrop shape silver nutmeg grater with steel rasp. With a hinged lid either side. One lid is engraved with a tulip flower, the other has no engraving.

Weight 37 grams, 1.1 troy ounce.

Height 2 cm. Top 4.2 x 3 cm. Spread across the hinge 4.5 cm.

Stamped inside of the lids with makers mark only “ME” conjoined between pellets, bird above, cinquefoil below, in lozenge shaped widow's shield. Probably Mary Elliott*.

Circa 1690. Mark references Jackson 1989 p.144.04, David Mitchell “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”

Literature. The tulip motif was popular during this period, as William of Orange (Netherlands) had taken the throne of England, as William III, with his wife Queen Mary II.

*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. Sometimes the details of makers can be discovered from old records such as the inventories of noble houses and other institutions.

The first surviving record at Goldsmiths Hall is the 1682 copper plate made to start the recording process again. This has recently prompted a study by Dr David Mitchell, supported by Goldsmiths Hall, resulting in the publication of his 2017 “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. This reference work identifies previously unknown makers marks and assigns marks struck on existing plate to individuals (attributions for 540 separate marks).

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