Antique Charles I Silver Wine Taster


Stock: 9605

Date: Circa 1631

Maker: William Maddox

Country: England

A rare early 17th century silver dish with applied shell side handles and scalloped rim. Unusual large size. Although quite...

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A rare early 17th century silver dish with applied shell side handles and scalloped rim. Unusual large size. Although quite shallow, this could be a wine taster or a sweetmeat dish. The embossed decoration has 10 segments containing flower motifs. The centre has a prick dot circle containing flower heads and a shield shaped cartouche with a simple coat of arms.

Weight 217 grams, 6.9 troy ounces.

Width across handles 25.6 cm. Diameter 19.2 cm.

English silver hallmarks stamped on the edge for London.

Circa 1631.

Maker William Maddox.

Sterling silver.

Provenance: From the collection of Lord Hastings

Literature: The saucer shaped taster was already in use as early as the 14th century BC in Minoan Crete and has been essential in the production of wine right through to the present time. It is used by the sommelier to determine a wine’s quality by assessing the color, clarity, bouquet and taste. The majority of wine tasters in existence are French. The owners often engraved their name on the taster whose single flat handle often accommodated a neck cord. Very few English wine tasters were made because wine was not a national product however a number were produced during a short period in the second half of the 17th century. These English examples are rare and anything after this date is even rarer. The early English examples were in the shape of a flat bowl, often with simple wire handles (these often have original rough soldering which can appear “blobby”).

Signed/Inscribed: *It is unusual to have a makers name for a piece of silver of this early date as there are no precise records of silver makers’ marks prior to 1697. All records were destroyed in the fire at Goldsmiths Hall in 1681 when the Assay Office and apartments of the Assayer and Clerk in the south west wing of the building were burned down. From 1697 onwards Goldsmiths Hall has preserved a complete record of workmen’s marks, addresses, together with their names and the dates. Sometimes the details of makers can be discovered from old records such as the inventories of noble houses and other institutions.

The first surviving record at Goldsmiths Hall is the 1682 copper plate made to start the recording process again. This has recently prompted a study by Dr David Mitchell, supported by Goldsmiths Hall, resulting in the publication of his 2017 “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. This reference work identifies previously unknown makers marks and assigns marks struck on existing plate to individuals (attributions for 540 separate marks).


This piece of early English silver is in good condition with some signs of use over the years. Bright finish. The embossed decoration and engraved arms have plenty of definition. With a full set of English silver hallmarks around the top edge, the date letter has been struck too close to the edge and is difficult to decipher. There is a repair to one handle and several small repairs to the border scallops. Please note that this item is not new and will show moderate signs of wear commensurate with age. Reflections in the photograph may detract from the true representation of this item.

Maker Information

Maker: William Maddox

William Maddox, London silversmith. Apprenticed to his brother John 1599, turned over to John Cheeseman 1600, free 1606. Livery 1632. Records show that Maddox had 12 apprentices/freedoms, including his son John, during the years 1607-1638. Maddox specialized in small dishes. Jackson lists four dishes with this mark from 1630-34 (Revised Jackson, 1989, p. 115).

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