9775
William III Silver Chamberstick

Date: 1697

Country: England

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A rare early English silver chamberstick (or “go to bed”) with the solid design and heavy gauge silver you'd expect from this date. It has the early form with flat teardrop handle. The circular pan has a gadrooned border and ribbed sconce, all mounted on three small stump feet. Hand engraved to one side is a crest and motto. The handle is hand engraved with a set of initials typical of the period.

Weight 295 grams, 9.4 troy ounces.

Height 6.2 cm. Diameter 11.5 cm. Spread 21.4 cm.

London 1697.

Makers mark unclear.

Britannia standard silver.

*Britannia Standard. In 1696, so extensive had become the melting and clipping of coinage that the silversmiths were forbidden to use the sterling standard for their wares, but had to use a new higher standard, 95.8 per cent. New hallmarks were ordered, "the figure of a woman commonly called Britannia" and the lion's head erased (torn off at the neck) replacing the lion passant and the leopard's head crowned. This continued until the old standard of 92.5 per cent was restored in 1720. Britannia standard silver still continues to be produced even today.

Literature. Silver chambersticks first made an appearance in the 17th century and early examples are now very hard to find. Originally they were made in sets as a household would need many chambersticks. They were used for lighting the way to bed and because of the movement created when they were carried about they needed a large drip pan to catch the wax. The earliest examples have straight handles (first flat, then tubular) which were superseded in the first part of the 18th century by a ring or flying handle. Gradually the design evolved and from the mid 18th century onwards they usually had a matching conical snuffer although from about 1790 onwards some were made with an aperture at the base of the stem to take a pair of scissor snuffers.

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