George III Silver Lidded Tankard by Matthew Boulton


Stock: 8645

Date: 1773

Maker: Matthew Boulton

Country: England

A rare antique sterling silver tankard with domed hinged lid and plain baluster design. From the Matthew Boulton and John...

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A rare antique sterling silver tankard with domed hinged lid and plain baluster design. From the Matthew Boulton and John Fothergill partnership and made in 1773, the first year of the Birmingham assay office. Good weight. Simple strapwork to the top of the handle and a cut out thumb piece. Inside you can still see the hammered finish. Uninscribed. Contains 900 ml. Weight 708 grams, 22,7 troy ounces. Height 22 cms. Diameter 9 cms (top). Birmingham 1773. Maker Matthew Boulton and John Fothergill.


This fine tankard is in very good condition with no damage or restoration. Uninscribed. Good weight. Fully marked underneath with a full set of clear English silver hallmarks, lid and handle unmarked. 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: Matthew Boulton

Matthew Boulton (3 September 1728-17 August 1809), English silver manufacturer and business partner of Scottish engineer James Wyatt. In the final quarter of the 18th century, the partnership installed hundreds of Boulton and Watts steam engines, making possible the mechanisation of factories and mills. Boulton applied modern techniques to the minting of coins, striking millions of pieces for Britain and other countries, and supplying the Royal Mint with up to date equipment. Boulton was a keen member of the Lunar Society, a Birmingham group prominent in the arts, sciences, and theology. Members included Watt, Erasmus Darwin, Josiah Wedgwood and Joseph Priestley. The Society met each month near the full moon, its members credited for developing concepts and techniques in science, agriculture, manufacturing, mining and transport that laid the groundwork for the industrial revolution. Boulton's father was a "toy maker" and silver stamper specialising in the production of shoe-buckles. Boulton junior was taken into partnership in 1749 and left in sole charge of the busines of the business after the death of his father in 1759. Among the products which Boulton wished to make was sterling silver plate for those able to afford it and Sheffield plate for those less well off. In 1762 Boulton took John Fothergill as partner to act as travelling salesman advertising his wares and his factory moved to Soho, Birmingham in the same year. The partnership concentrated in the production of steel "toys" a little later on buttons and buckles made in a variety of substances including silver. In 1762 the Soho factory began to produce articles in "Sheffield" plate and was one of the first to adopt "Sterling silver thread" edging which prevent to reveal the underlying copper. Boulton soon became the largest manufacturer of "Sheffield plate" in the country and expanded the business of his Soho manufactory to encompass the production of bijouterie, objects d'art and de virtue, in ormolu, pinchbeck and tortoise-shell, and in clocks. In 1765 Boulton began to manufacture items in solid silver and was obliged to send every piece of plate to Chester to be marked (Chester was the nearest assay office, 72 miles from Birmingham). Boulton started a petition to assay silver in Birmingham and was successful in getting Parliament to pass an act establishing assay offices in Birmingham in 1773 and also in that same year in Sheffield, whose silversmiths had faced similar difficulties in transporting their wares. Boulton's distinctive Old Sheffield plate mark with two suns is a sign of quality and his work is much sought after. His sterling silver mark, a simple “MB”, was accompanied by John Fothergill’s “IF” during their partnership (1762-1783).

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