Large English Sterling Piece

PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
Fortunata
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Large English Sterling Piece

Postby Fortunata » Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:56 pm

I have a large English sterling piece which has been in my family for three generations. To my knowlege, no one has been able to trace its' heritage. It is a wall mounted piece with three shelves, about 30 inches tall overall. The back is highly detailed with six rectangular scenes.
Thank you for your help!

Image

dognose
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Postby dognose » Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:09 pm

Hi,

Welcome to the Forum.

They appear to be pseudo marks, and more accurate than normally seen.
Can we see some photos of the whole item?

Trev.

Fortunata
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Postby Fortunata » Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:42 pm

Thanks for your help. What is a pseudo mark? I was nervous about posting a photo of the whole piece, but here goes. This is a detailed photo, so you should be able to zoom in on the remarkable scenes. I also have close ups of each panel. I'm not sure , but it appears they were made separately and sldered into place. Thanks again.

Image

byron mac donald
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Postby byron mac donald » Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:47 am

Hi Fortunata-

I have a question... what the heck is it for? as far as pseudo marks... here is a link to a wonderfull site that explains them.

http://www.925-1000.com/silverglossary4.html

Best wishes- Byron

dognose
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Postby dognose » Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:02 pm

Hi,

Whatever the piece is, it is certainly most remarkable. The plaques obviously tell a story, but I can't place this story in history, despite the many clues it contains.
The fact it appears to have pseudo marks does not mean its not silver.
Is it mounted on wood?
Do you any provenance or family history relating to this amazing item?

Trev.

byron mac donald
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Postby byron mac donald » Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:30 pm

Once I clicked on the picture again I was able to see the story, of battles, honor and peace. Very interesting item, I wonder to whom it applies?

Byron

MLF
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Postby MLF » Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:53 pm

Yes, there is clearly a story being told here, and probably one that would be familiar to the audience. Judging from the style of dress in the panels, I wonder if they show scenes from the Revolt of the Netherlands (1568–1648). This is just speculation on my part of course.

Kind regards
Mikael

Fortunata
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Postby Fortunata » Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:18 pm

Thank you all for your kind comments. The piece has non-ferrous silver reinforcing pieces on the back, no wood or other metal pieces. The thing is heavy.
Byron - we used the piece as a wall mounted shelf in a formal dining room.
dognose - the piece was purchased by my grandfather from a neighbor. It was completely covered in many layers of paint such that the reliefs were not visible. My grandfather hung it up in his shed and piled garden tools on it! Years later my mother noticed the standing figures / finials, and thought them unusual. She asked my grandfather for it, and took it home. Late that evening my parents struck the glint of silver while cleaning the piece, and stayed up most of the night continuing the reveal.

Thanks, Brian

dognose
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Postby dognose » Thu Sep 25, 2008 2:25 am

Hi Brian,

Thats a great story.

Just a thought, what part of the world are you from?

Regards Trev.

georgiansilver
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Postby georgiansilver » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:20 am

I believe that what you have here could be an important piece of Royal and religious history... depicted in scenes of what appear to be British activity. The figure at the top, on one side, appears to be Charles II. I do not believe the marks are pseudo at all.. I believe the lion is representative of sterling silver and the SS is the makers mark. I also think you should take this to the British Museum to be researched by their archivists. If this turns out to be of extreme historical importance... then who knows???
Best wishes, Mike.

Fortunata
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Postby Fortunata » Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:14 pm

Thanks, Trev. I'm from the USA. I would be fascinated to know the history and travels of this piece - I don't even know what to properly call it.
Thanks also for your comments, Mike. We were always fairly in awe of it hanging on the wall while we were growing up. It looks like it should be on the wall of some royal salon.
We have definitely thought that a museum archivist would love to research the piece, but have enjoyed doing our own sleuthing first.
Trev, since I'm clearly no longer photoshy - should we move the post to the regular forum to try to get more views and perhaps someone who might know more about it?
Thanks, Brian

dognose
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Postby dognose » Fri Sep 26, 2008 4:42 pm

Hi,

Whilst I am uncertain where this piece originates from, the one thing I am sure of, is that it is not English.
I don't doubt that it may be silver, and wonder if it might be the product of the Hanau industry. The one thing that makes me doubt Hanau, is the signature type device that preceeds the two 'S's, this to me seems very 20th Century, and is in my opinion the maker's mark.
Can anyone make this signature out?

Trev.

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Postby Granmaa » Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:10 pm

What a spectacular piece! I'm afraid I can't help much, but I will make a few observations, and do with them what you will.

I think the six scenes might be critical references to Cromwell at the end of the English civil war.

1. The figure on the top left, as Mike says, could be Charles II who succeeded Cromwell. Is the figure on the right St Peter and the key? I believe Charles II stayed in a St Peter's church when he was fleeing the country.

2. Notice we see the same person in at least three of the six scenes: he has distinctive trousers and could be Cromwell.
The top left scene could be Cromwell triumphant.
I think there was an assassination attempt on Cromwell which could be represented by the middle scenes, note the man in the fancy trousers in the middle right scene clutching a wound (?) and the knife on the floor.
In the bottom left scene we see the fancy trousered man cowering on the ground while perhaps Charles II rides past. I don't know if this happened, but accuracy is not important with propaganda.
Bottom right scene is maybe the coronation of Charles II.

As you can see my knowledge of history is execrable, but these might give someone a few ideas.

3. I don't know if they are original, but have a look at the brackets holding up the shelves and the screws used to affix them. They don't really suggest great age or great quality to me. Whatever, it's still a great piece, and I do love the story of its discovery.

Miles

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Postby Granmaa » Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:43 am

About the mark. I'm not sure if it's a signature: if you turn the picture 90 degrees clockwise, it looks a bit like a snake coiled up a tree.

Miles

Fortunata
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Postby Fortunata » Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:02 pm

Thanks again all. Trev, doesn't the lion stamp imply English heritage? I know it could be false, or the piece could portray English history but have been made elsewhere. The dress, clerical robes,miters etc. all look English to me.
I have linked to some more high resolution photos, including the back, panels, and finial figurines. One looks like Plato, the other a French Musketeer.
Miles, I agree the brackets and screws don't suggest great age, the screws appear to be very uniform, poosibly machine made, but the brackets are cast and appear to have been made with exceptional care.
Image
ImageImageImage

alex185
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Postby alex185 » Sun Sep 28, 2008 1:37 pm

Lisa, You have a fantastic piece. The lion stamp can imply Scottrish too. The figure that looks like a musketeer, is in my opinion, a person from Holland. I just bought several carved pieces like him in Brussels last spring.

What it really reminds me of is the "Tour" pieces that A.B. Paris made from 1850 - to about 1900. The "tour" pieces were jewlery and glove boxes and shields (in bronze and silver) from various key cities such as Paris, Vienna, etc....they featured key revolts and scenes that were associated with that city. The craftsmanship was fantastic. In ways, they were historic reminders. They are called 'tour" because as a well too do young person came of age they were often taken on a European tour for an educational experience by the parents or their tutor and these were the keepsakes.

Anyhow, this what your piece caused me to instantly think of. Of course my synapses often misfire.... and it may be something much more that that.

Regardless, it is tres cool!

georgiansilver
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Postby georgiansilver » Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:02 am

I still maintain that the curators at the British Museum should be asked to research this piece, whatever the outcome. Best wishes, Mike.

MLF
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Postby MLF » Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:42 am

Hello all,

I think the dress is too early for Cromwell and still suspect the panels show scenes from the Dutch Revolt. Also, I think the panels may pre-date the rest of the piece.

It is possible that the panels focus on François, Duke of Anjou and Alençon (the very same that Elizabeth I called her ‘Frog’). Anjou was the youngest son of Henry II of France and Catherine de Medici — and a Catholic. His crest is shown below.
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In 1576, Anjou negotiated the Edict of Beaulieu during the French Wars of Religion. In 1579, he was invited by William the Silent to become hereditary sovereign to the United Provinces, as this might be a way to garner the protection of England and France in the face of Spanish claims on the Netherlands. On September 29, 1580, the Dutch States-General (with the exception of Zeeland and Holland) signed the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours with the Duke, who would assume the title "Protector of the Liberty of the Netherlands" and become the sovereign.

Anjou arrived in the Netherlands on February 10, 1582, and was officially welcomed by William in Flushing. In spite of the Joyous Entries he was accorded in Bruges and Ghent and his ceremonious installation as Duke of Brabant and Count of Flanders, Anjou was not popular with the Dutch and Flemish, who continued to see the Catholic French as enemies; the provinces of Zeeland and Holland refused to recognise him as their sovereign.

Anjou himself was dissatisfied with his limited power, and decided to take the Flemish cities of Antwerp, Bruges, Dunkirk and Ostend by force.

He decided to head personally the attack on Antwerp on January 18, 1583. In an attempt to fool the citizens of Antwerp, Anjou asked to be permitted to make a 'Joyous Entry’ to the city in order to honour them with a parade. No one was fooled. As soon as the troops entered the city, the gates of Antwerp were slammed shut behind them. The French troops were trapped in the city and were bombarded from windows and rooftops with stones, rocks, logs and heavy chains. Then the city's garrison opened deadly, point-blank fire on the troops. Only a few Frenchmen, including Anjou, escaped. Over 1500 troops perished, eventually hacked to death by the enraged citizens of Antwerp. This incident is called the ‘French Fury.’

How does all this relate to the six silver panels? Well, notice how the crest above the door in the fourth panel may well be Anjou’s.
Image

The first panel may show his joyous entry to Bruges or Ghent in 1582, and the second show jousting at the same occasion.
Image Image

The third panel may depict his being trapped in Antwerp during the French Fury of 1583.
Image

As mentioned above, the fourth panel seems to show Anjou’s crest, the three fleurs-de-lys, above the door, but I do not yet have an explanation for the murder we are witnessing, except that it may show some alleged Calvinist attack on Anjou or someone in his household.
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The fifth panel shows a battle, apparently guided by Christ; perhaps Anjou’s attack on Bruges, Dunkirk or Ostend.
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The sixth panel may show Anjou’s ceremonious installation as Duke of Brabant and Count of Flanders. This panel has a distinct Catholic angle, rather than a Calvinist one, and this is important in my believing that the panels show Anjou rather than the Dutch hero William the Silent.
Image

The panels may therefore have been used as propaganda — something that the unpopular Anjou might well have needed to shore up the support of his Catholic base. For example, if the third panel is indeed a scene from the French Fury, it seems to stress the cruelty of Antwerp’s Calvinist citizenry.

If all this is true, the order of the panels is not chronological, and it is tempting to speculate that the panels predate the rest of Lisa’s piece. In fact, judging from the excellent pictures, the panels seem to have been clipped around the edges before being soldered onto the frame. But it will probably take an expert with access to the piece to determine this.

Most of this is pure speculation, of course!

Kind regards

Mikael


Source: Wikipedia

Fortunata
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Postby Fortunata » Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:41 pm

Wow, that is a lot of information to digest. I'm not sure if I agree about the crest containing fleur de lis. As intricate as the rest of the panels are, even the backgrounds, they could easily have made recognizable fleur de lis if that was what they wished to portray.
Also note the crest on the carriage in the fourth panel, and the crest on the flag in the first panel. Anyone notice that in the second panel the lance is broken off with the end stuck in the knight's face? Ouch.
The sixth panel shows a king and queen in a royal box as well as six other crowned figures seated in the foreground.
And you guys have succeeded in nagging me into contacting the British Museum, we'll see if I get a reply.
Thanks again,
Brian

rat-tail
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Postby rat-tail » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:54 pm

Hi Brian - I have just seen this most amazing piece of silver now - and enjoyed it's wonderful history as a tool rack - and have read the responses with fascination. I was just wondering if you had heard anything from the British Museum as to what they thought it might be.

I too have a feeling it is something to do with the Netherlands - if for no other reason that the architecture screams Dutch, although the interior scenes are more French. But why would a Dutch piece have English pseudo marks, unless the panels were older and the silversmith who made the superstructure needed to pass it off as English.

An outside possibility. Could it not have something to do with the restoration of John of Braganza to the Portuguese throne in 1640, about the same time as the Dutch revolt and also against the hated Spanish Hapsburgs. There were certainly some uprisings, and one by the inquisition was crushed quite brutally, and some battles which the Portuguese won. And perhaps the pseudo mark had something to do with his daughter or was it grand daughter Catherine of Braganza marrying Charles II and coming to England with the restoration. Although the lion passant that is being copied is the post 1820s one.

Anyone know what the wolf's head at the top might signify? And that pierced heart below a crown in the sign in the third panel? Of course another thing to bear in mind is that if the panels are older than the superstructure, they may not be in the right order, although 3, 4, 5, 6 seem logical.

But a fabulous piece, am quite envious. Please enjoy it, and thanks for sharing it with us - regards Frank


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