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The Bingley Cup

  • Object:

    Cup and cover

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1714 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rollos, Philip the Elder (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt, cast and chased

  • Credit Line:

    Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2008

  • Museum number:

    M.30:1-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 65, The Whiteley Galleries, case 5, shelf 2 []

These splendid silver-gilt cups were made for Robert Benson, 1st Baron Bingley, when he was appointed ambassador to the court of Spain in 1713, to form part of the display at official functions which reflected both his status and that of the British crown. They were supplied by the Royal Jewel House and marked by Phillip Rollos, one of the leading foreign goldsmiths working in London at the time.

Physical description

A silver-gilt cup, cover and matching salver, one of a pair, the cup on a spreading circular foot cast and chased with basketwork, the body applied with masks, lambrequins and strapwork above and below the central moulded rib, the scroll handles cast with beading and foliage, the stepped spool-shaped covers with foliage and gadrooned borders, a band of guilloche enclosing rosettes and vase-shaped finial, the salver on a bell-shaped foot with basket work border and partly fluted knop and with gadrooned rim and shaped leaf and scroll border, the cup and salver engraved with the Royal coat of arms, the cover with the monogram of Queen Anne, the cup, cover and salver each struck four times with the maker's mark, the salver and cup both marked with scratch weights.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

ca. 1714 (made)

Artist/maker

Rollos, Philip the Elder (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt, cast and chased

Marks and inscriptions

Maker's mark RO with mullet above and below struck four times on the cup, cover and salver.
The Royal Coat of Arms are engraved on the cup and the salver.
The cover is engraved with the Royal monogram for Queen Anne

No hallmarks

Dimensions

Height: 38 cm, Width: 35.5 cm cup and cover, Depth: 20.5 cm cup and cover, Diameter: 40.4 cm salver, Height: 13.5 cm salver, Weight: 15.03 kg entire set, Weight: 483 oz entire set

Object history note

Delivered by Samuel Smythin to the Royal Jewel House, London between 26th December 1713 and 26th March 1714 for the use of Baron Bingley as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Court of Spain (1713-1714); Returned to the Jewel House by 28th June 1725. Owned by Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover (1771-1851), thence by descent to Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and Crown Prince of Hanover (1887-1953); Crichton Brothers, 1924; Sir Phillip Sassoon Bt., thence by descent to the Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton sale, Christie's London 8 December 1994, lot 103.

The cup is part of a magnificent set with an impressive Royal provenance originally intended for ambassadorial plate. The Royal arms engraved on the cups and the salvers are those of Queen Anne who reigned from 1702-1714 and the covers are marked with her initials. The comtemporary reference to the supply of this set is preserved in the Jewel House accounts between 26 December 1713 and 26th March 1714 (Fo.223, Lord Chamberlain's Papers/47 in the National Archives at Kew: 'Anno Regina Anna 12th 1714 / Lord Bingley/ ditto Item two Cupps Covers & Sallvers gilt at 490 oz 12/7d gilt £398:5:10'. (The silver alone had cost £308-5s-10d in 1713.)

It is very unusual to find a pair of cups and covers from this period which retain their matching salvers. Precedents for salvers can be traced back to the 1620s as footed plates for the dessert, and as a standing paten for ecclesiastical use. Their original function within the service of wine was to catch drips from the glasses during the pouring of wine at the side board, but by 1700, they had acquired an additional ceremonial status, often advertising a court office. For this reason, they have survived in pristine condition as their associations with family and national history have saved them from being melted down as unfashionable. The relationship between covered cups and salvers was often overlooked by collectors, and thus many salvers were separated from their matching cups.

Historical context note

A similar pair of covered cups were issued to Lord Methuen in 1714 marked by the same London maker. Sir Phillip Sassoon also owned the Methuen cups and the Bingley and Methuen cups were exhibited together in London in the Loan Exhibition of English Plate held at 25 Park Lane, W1 in 1929. The cups were supplied by Samuel Smythin, the Principal Goldsmith. Robert Benson, 1st Baron Bingley lived at Braham Park, Yorkshire. A politician, businessman and diplomat, he was appointed Ambassador-Extraordinary to Spain in December 1713 when he was granted 5893 ozs of white plate and 1066 ozs of gilt plate. He never went to Spain and returned 4,913 oz 11 dwts of white plate and 704 ozs 3 dwt of gilt plate to the Jewel House on 28th June 1725.

Descriptive line

Silver-gilt, London (no hallmarks), ca.1714, mark of Phillip Rollos.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

H.Avray Tipping,'The English Silver Plate of the Duke of Cumberland' Country Life, LV, 2 February 1924, figs.1 & 2.
E.Alfred Jones, The Duke of Cumberland's English Plate', The Burlington Magazine, 44, no.250(January 1924) pp.40-42
Helen Jacobsen, 'Ambassadorial plate of the later Stuart period and the collection of the Earl of Strafford', Journal of the History of Collections, vol.19 no.1 (2007) pp.1-13

Labels and date

These splendid and weighty objects, probably the only set of cups and salvers to survive together, are one of the finest examples of display silver. They were commissioned, as was customary, as part of the official ambassadorial plate for Robert Benson, 1st Baron Bingley, appointed Ambassador Extrordinary to the Court of Spain in 1713. An ambassador's silver, set out at official functions, reflected both his status and that of the English crown, so the cups were designed to impress. They were supplied by Samuel Smythin, the Royal Goldsmith, but made in the workshop of Phillip Rollos, one of the most important London goldsmiths.

The casting and chased ornament on the body are of exceptional quality, as would be expected of a major Huguenot workshop with a royal and aristocratic clientele. They entered the collection at Houghton, built for Robert Walpole in the 1720s, through Sir Phillip Sassoon, brother of Sybil, Countess of Rocksavage. [1976]

Production Note

Supplied by Samuel Smythin to the Jewel House, London

Materials

Silver-gilt

Techniques

Casting; Chasing; Engraving

Subjects depicted

Lambrequins; Foliage; Guilloche; Rosettes; Beading (edging pattern); Coat of arms, royal; Scroll-work; Fluting; Masks (design elements); Gadrooning; Strapwork

Categories

Ceremonial objects; Containers; Metalwork

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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