Please complete the form to email this item.

Box and lid - Calverley Toilet Service
  • Calverley Toilet Service
    Fowle, William, born 1658 - died 1684
  • Enlarge image

Calverley Toilet Service

  • Object:

    Box and lid

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (made)

  • Date:

    1683-1684 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fowle, William, born 1658 - died 1684 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan, Bt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 54a, case 2

  • Download image

Object Type

This small round box may have held hair or face powder, rouge, fragrant orris root for the teeth, patches, powder puffs, ribbons or fake teeth. One box has a cast plaquette showing the ancient Greek mythological hero Hercules and his lover Iole, Queen of Lydia, whilst the other shows Venus, goddess of love, and Adonis.


A silver toilet service was often a gift to a bride from a wealthy groom. This box is part of a service (Museum nos. 240&A to M-1879) that was bought for Julia Blackett, the eldest daughter of Sir William Blackett, by her intended husband Sir Walter Calverley. This is recorded in his diary: 'On Tuesday, the 17th of January, 1706-7 I was married to Miss Julia Blackett...I and my mother were at the cost of a fine set of dressing plate for my wife, came to 116l. odd money...'.

Recent research has identified the silversmith, whose mark 'WF' is found on this service, as William Fowle (1658-1684). He was apprenticed to the well-known silversmith, Arthur Manwaring, and went into business independently in 1681. He specialised in making toilet services.

Social Class

Matching sets of toilet silver originated in 17th-century France in conjunction with the custom of the levée. This was a practice popular among the upper classes, in which friends and family would be invited to witness the dressing and adornment of noble ladies.

Place of Origin

London, England (made)


1683-1684 (made)


Fowle, William, born 1658 - died 1684 (maker)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

WF for William Fowles, see David Mitchell essay, Burlington Magazine, 1994
Town mark: London


Height: 6 cm, Diameter: 9 cm

Object history note

Probably made by William Fowle, with designs after Guglielmo della Porta (active 1534, died in Rome, 1577) in London

Labels and date

British Galleries:

[consists of 1 mirror frame, 2 tazzas, 2 large round boxes with lids and 2 small round boxes with lids, 2 rectangular boxes with lid, 2 large vessels with lids and 2 small vases with lids, 1 pincushion]

In about 1700 a silver toilet set was a customary wedding gift for a wealthy bride from her husband. It was intended for display in the wife's private apartments and included caskets for jewels or gloves, pincushions, pots for cosmetics and trays for pins, as well as an impressive mirror. This set was over twenty years old when Sir Walter Calverley bought it in 1707 for £119, little more than the cost of the silver by weight. [27/03/2003]


British Galleries

Collection code


Download image