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Cup and cover

Cup and cover

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1720-1725 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Willaume, David, born 1658 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, engraved with case handles and case, applied ornament on a matted ground

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with funds from the Ives Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 9 []

Object Type
The form of this cup, with its decoration of 'cut-card' work and large scroll handles, is very typical of the early 18th century. The term cut-card work is used when small pieces of sheet metal, decorated or pierced, have been soldered on to the surface of the item. This cup is also engraved, with the crest of a royal prince and the device of an arrow and a target.

Materials & Making
Between 1719 and 1758 a duty of 6d per ounce was levied on plate. For substantial presentation plate of considerable weight this was a large amount of money. Silversmiths went to great lengths to avoid paying this duty. One way of doing this was to remove the area stamped with the marks from a small item, such as a bowl or cream jug, and solder it into the base of a large, heavy vessel. This would then appear to be fully marked, implying that the correct duty had been paid. Since the inset marks are contemporary with the item in which they were soldered, these altered wares are quite difficult to detect.

On the recommendation of the Antique Plate Committee at Goldsmiths' Hall, the false plate inserted at the junction of the bowl and foot on this cup was removed in 1969. The committee has statutory powers to seize plate that contravenes the law. On this occasion it allowed the cup to be exhibited provided the false plate were removed.

The maker of this cup, David Willaume, was one of the most successful London goldsmiths of his time and enjoyed the patronage of wealthy clients. It is interesting to note that even such a prominent silversmith should engage in the dishonest practice of duty-dodging.

Historical Associations
The cup was presented to the Royal Archery Society as a prize by William IV. He also presented other plate to the Society during his reign (1830-1837).

Physical description

Two-handled cup and cover with single, pedestal foot with gadrooned decoration, a rounded base applied with "cut card" work and large scroll handles. Engraved on one side with a lion passant and the device of an arrow laid horizontally on the outline of a circular target, with the motto PETE G[ie C]ENTRUM, and below, round the edge of the foot 'WON AT BAYSWATER JULY 22ND 1830'. Engraved on the other side, the crest of a Royal prince, a lion passant and two crowns, almost certainly a son of George III.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1720-1725 (made)


Willaume, David, born 1658 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, engraved with case handles and case, applied ornament on a matted ground

Marks and inscriptions

'Seek the centre' [ie. of the target]
Latin motto engraved ca. 1800 on the side of the bowl.

Engraved round the edge of the foot, beneath the Latin motto.


Height: 28.2 cm, Width: 27.8 cm, Depth: 16.6 cm, Diameter: 11.3 cm foot

Object history note

David Willaume I was among the first wave of French Huguenot (Protestant) immigrants who settled in England in the late seventeenth century because of religious persecution in their native land. Born in Metz in 1658, he may have been trained by his father Adam, who was also a goldsmith. In December 1687 David became a naturalised English citizen, which entitled him to work as a goldsmith in London. English patrons admired the bold forms and technical skill of immigrant French goldsmiths, and the number of high-quality pieces that survive from Willaume's workshop (initially in Pall Mall; latterly in St James' Street) testify to his success in the trade (see Grimwade, 1990, sub nom.). Willaume's prosperity enabled him to buy a manor in Tingrith, Bedfordshire, where he died some time before January 1741.
The identity of the original patron and the reasons for the commission of this cup are unknown. Some 75 years later, the cup seems to have been in the possession of one of the sons of George III, as the crest engraved on the side is that of a Royal prince. The arrow, motto and inscription on the other show that in 1830 the cup was awarded as an archery prize. George's son William, who reigned as William IV (26 June 1830- 20 June 1837) was a keen archer, and it is likely that he presented the cup to a successful archer at the competition held at Bayswater. The records of the Royal Toxophilite (archery) Society show the cup passed to the Society (see Bury and Lightbown, 1970, p. 147). The Museum purchased it from Captain Richard Grant-Rennick, of Lichborough Hall, Northamptonshire.

Historical significance: This cup is a good example of the work of a successful Huguenot goldsmith. Its heavy-gauge silver, monumental form and strictly demarcated areas of ornament (which leave space for the addition of an engraved inscription or family arms) are characteristics particularly associated with the work of French immigrant goldsmiths and which proved popular among wealthy English patrons (see Tait, 1972). The two-handled shape and squat proportions are typical of fashionable Huguenot work of the early eighteenth century, although certain elements of the form are also apparent in rare surviving English-made cups of the 1660s (see Tait, 1982; for a survey of the form, see Clayton, 1971). The cup is also significant as an example of duty-dodging, a practice in which the goldsmith attempted to avoid payment of tax on a piece assessed by the weight of silver used. Willaume had inserted a false plate at the junction of the bowl and the foot, bearing his maker's mark and the London hallmark for 1706. The style of the piece, however, implies a date some 20 years later. (The disc with the false marks was detached in 1969 by Goldsmiths' Hall on the recommendation of the Antique Plate Committee.)

Historical context note

Two-handled lidded cups were fashionable commissions among the wealthy in England during the first half of the eighteenth century. Often made in pairs, and placed on a matching salver, the cups could be engraved with family arms or commemorative images and inscriptions. There is no evidence of the original purpose for the commission of this cup; however the early nineteenth-century devices and inscriptions on the sides and foot show it came to be used as a prize in archery competitions. Although by the nineteenth century archery had long ceased to play an important role in warfare, the sport had been given a significant boost in 1781 by the formation of the Royal Toxophilite ('lover of the bow') Society. The Society described itself as 'royal' because it was presented every year with a prize by the king. The princely devices on this cup, and the references to archery and competition combine to suggest that it was just such a royal prize, given to the Society by William IV at the start of his reign in 1830.

Descriptive line

Silver, English (London), 1720-25, David Willaume

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

Bury, Shirley and R. W. Lightbown. English Silver - New Pieces and New Facts. Victoria and Albert Museum Yearbook, 2, 1970, pp. 145-156
Grimwade, Arthur G. London goldsmiths 1697-1837: their marks and lives: from the original registers at Goldsmiths' Hall and other sources. 3rd edn, rev. and enl. London : Faber, 1990. ISBN 0571152384
Clayton, Michael. The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America. 2nd edn. Suffolk: Antique Collectors' Club, 1985. ISBN 090746257X
Tait, Hugh. Huguenot silver made in London (c.1690-1723): The Peter Wilding Bequest to the British Museum. Part 1. Connoisseur. August 1972, pp. 267-277.
Tait, Hugh. The Advent of the Two-Handled Cup: The Croft Cups. The Society of Silver Collectors - The Proceedings 1976-1979, 2 (nos 11-13), Spring 1982, pp. 202-210.
Sporting Glory: The Courage Exhibition of National Trophies at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Sporting Trophies Exhibitions Ltd, 1992. Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 11 November 1992 - 12 January 1993.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Covered cups were among the most prestigious objects made by goldsmiths, and were therefore fashionably decorated. From the mid-17th century this form of two-handled cup was a popular prize for sports. The maker of this ewer, David Willaume, was a Huguenot (French Protestant) from Metz who quickly established himself as a supplier to the English court. [27/03/2003]


Metalwork; Sport


Metalwork Collection

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