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  • Place of origin:

    England (designed and made)

  • Date:

    ca.1850-1878 (designed and made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    George John Cayley, born 1826 - died 1878 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, raised, chased and repoussé.

  • Credit Line:

    Bequest of Miss Violet Cayley

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

George John Cayley (1826-78), son of the MP Edward Stillingfleet Cayley, was an eccentric.. Besides dabbling in poetry and writing a light-hearted book on travels in Spain, he was a gifted artist (he illustrated some of his own books) and a craftsman known for his metalwork. In 1862 he and the painter George Frederick Watts worked together to design the challenge shield for a shooting championship at Wimbledon. He was also one of the more left-wing Cayleys of the 19th century – and a keen tennis player.

In 1870 he went to live in Algiers to try and improve his health. There he played tennis as long as his health permitted — “longer, it might be said” according to recollections of him in a 1909 edition of his Spanish travel book. This was shortly before lawn tennis as we know it became established. During spells in England he worked with a carpenter and cabinet-maker, William Button Maslen from near Swansea, to develop new types of tennis racket. In January 1875 the Edinburgh Review, which is still in existence, published his article "Lusio Pilaris and Lawn Tennis", which was the first ever article on lawn tennis. "Lusio pilaris" is Latin for the game of tennis.

Physical description

Dish, silver four sided, chased and repoussé with a border of classical figures; Poseidon and Thetis riding on dolphins, Nereus on a sea-horse and Europa on a bull, in the corners, dolphins and tridents.

Place of Origin

England (designed and made)


ca.1850-1878 (designed and made)


George John Cayley, born 1826 - died 1878 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, raised, chased and repoussé.


Height: 13.9 ct, Width: 13.7 cm, Depth: 2 cm

Object history note

Bequest of Miss Violet Cayley

Historical context note

There is a photograph of George John Cayley, taken by Camille Silvy dated the 8th of January, 1862 in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG Ax56645). The photograph was taken in the photographer's studio at 38 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater.

Descriptive line

Dish, silver, England, (no hallmarks), made by George John Cayley, ca.1850-1878.




Raising; Chasing; Repoussé

Subjects depicted

Tridents; Dolphins; Greek Gods


Metalwork; Silver

Production Type



Metalwork Collection

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