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Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
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Experience:  Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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As a Vicar I have in my possession a silver chalice with lid

Resolved Question:

As a Vicar I have in my possession a silver chalice with lid both clearly hallmarked with the same mark and the lid is dated 1575, both are in good condition could you give me an approximate value. Thank you. Rev Liz
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  Robert S. replied 2 years ago.

Hi Rev Liz,

My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to help with your chalice.

 

What a rarity this sounds like it is. A piece of ecclesiastical silver that survived the Civil War when most of it was melted down to pay for the king's war effort. Or fell into Parliamentar***** *****ds and met the same fate.

 

In order to give you the most accurate valuation, could you tell me the weight in ounces or grams (an ordinary kitchen scales will do) and let me know the height.

 

Also, a photo of the hallmarks would be a great help as well as an overview of the piece itself.

Here's a REALLY simple way to attach images (three clicks and a copy and paste and you are done).

Go to http://www.imgur.com/

(no need to 'log in' or 'register' it makes it far too complicated)

Click on Computer

Select the pictures you want to send me from the box that pops up.

Hit open.

Click on Start Upload

And then copy the link they give you.

It will look similar to this http://www.imgur.com/xxxx and it's located right under where it says Link (email & IM) and paste it here where you are typing to me.

(If you have uploaded multiple photos on one Imgur.com link, copy the URL in the browser bar at the top of your screen, otherwise I get just one photo)

Many thanks and wait to hear,
Robert

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Robert


 


The chalice is actually dated 1571


 


it is approx. 12.5 cms high diameter 7.5 cms and weighs approx. 3.5 oz


the top/lid is 3.5 cms high and weighs 2 oz


The lion, crowned leopard and o within a shield shape verifies the year etc and a sketch of the fourth marking is below. Both the chalice and lid have these markings.


 


I hope these images help


 


Rev Liz


 


http://imgur.com/YS22J9s


 


http://imgur.com/2T5TEsu


 


http://imgur.com/oJJQKTz


 


http://imgur.com/OBz3EoI



Expert:  Robert S. replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for the excellent photos, what an amazing piece of silver!

 

It's so rare to see a genuine example of Elizabethan liturgical silver and with clear and unambiguous hallmarks, too, still perfectly legible after 443 years of sipping, handling and polishing. Also rare to have the original paten cover to the cup, so often these get separated or lost, and with perfect en suite hallmarks which you have quite correctly interpreted: date letter O for 1571, lion passant for English royal sterling, leopard's head crowned for London. The maker's mark, a crescent below three mullets (stars) in a shield, first recorded in London in 1560, so far remains unattributed, but bears a resemblance to the Murray family or Earls of Sunderland coat of arms shield, to which there may be a connection. Also similar to an ancient Warsaw maker by the name of Hempel.

 

The cup of slightly flared form on a knopped and stepped domed foot, the knop and step with what looks like dental bead molding which is unusual. The stem may possibly have been shortened at one time as its form is atypical. The cup with traditional & classic Renaissance ornament of a single band of intersecting strap-work enclosing foliate scrolling. Inscribed '1571' on the spool button finial/stand of the cover.

 

Apparently Communion cups and cover inscribed with the year 1571 were at one time quite common in parish churches. The following excellent excerpt from http://www.redmarley.org.uk/history/miscellaneous/

by ***** ***** explains why:

....in February 1570 Pope Pius V issued the papal bull “Regnans in excelsis” by which he excommunicated Elizabeth I and for good measure called upon all Catholics to oppose her and bring about her downfall – by assassination if need be. This souring of relations had been brewing for many years. Elizabeth had always been regarded as illegitimate and a usurper of the throne; the Papacy favoring the claims of Mary Queen of Scots. More particularly, Elizabeth’s continued persistence in promoting Protestantism was seen by the Pope as a personal affront, and worse, as an act of flagrant heresy.

When the papal bull reached London in April, Elizabeth was equally affronted. Her furious response was to increase her persecution of the many recusants still practicing their Catholic faith, despite the stipulations of the Act of Uniformity of 1559. Up until now she had “turned a blind eye” to many of these irregularities. This leniency was now at an end. Elizabeth was goaded into still more action; articles of church plate attracted her attention as being in need of drastic “reform”. She decreed that every church should surrender all the silver chalices and other artifacts which had been used in celebrating Mass during the brief reign of her Catholic predecessor Mary I (“Bloody Mary“). The articles were to be melted down by local silversmiths and recast into larger Communion cups deemed more appropriate for Protestant worship, in which the laity as well as the clergy were to receive the wine. The diocesan bishops were made responsible for this “exchange“.

 

And so in 1570 and particularly 1571 the Communion cup and cover replaced the old Roman Catholic chalices.

 

Valuation: Elizabethan I Communion cup and paten cover, both hallmarked for London 1571 and the cover inscribed "1571".

(Interestingly, a similar aged Elizabeth I communion cup sold at Christie's London just today for the tidy sum of £7,500. However it had no cover.)

I would say that yours would sell at one of the top auction houses in the range of

£9000 - £13,000. It therefore has an insurance value of at least £25,000.

 

I do hope this helps!

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance with this, I would be glad to.

Best wishes,
Robert

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear *****


 


Thank you for this information it is all very interesting, I will need to look at insurances throughout my churches.


 


Out of my seven churches 5 of them have chalices from the 16th century but this one has the clearest markings, two of them we still use monthly, and another we use at midnight communion on Christmas Eve.


I am in the Trent Basin 6 miles south of the market town of Newark in Nottinghamshire. I am situated between the Old Fosse way and the Great North road and in this we hold a lot of history re the War of the Roses and the Civil War. Prompted by your first response I went to Newark parish church where they have in their crypt more 16th century silverware and chalices from local churches, in fact they boast of a chalice used by Charles 1st. This can be viewed by request but no one was present in the church at the time to let me see them.


It seems as if we in Nottinghamshire were quite good at hiding silver.


 


Thank you for your help and expertise


Grace and Peace


 


Rev Liz

Expert:  Robert S. replied 2 years ago.

Obviously extremely good at hiding silver in Nottinghamshire! 5 chalices from the 16th C. What a hoard!

Also, what a small world, I used to live in the village of Colston Bassett in the '90s and for two years in a tiny hamlet south of Newark called Shelton, which is probably quite close to where you are [no need to disclose, as this is a publicly viewable conversation].

While at Colston Bassett I had my own adventure with ancient silver. I accidentally dug up a medieval silver ring-brooch in the garden (no metal detector needed! Or wanted!). I even have a letter from Her Majesty's Coroner for Nottinghamshire (Dr Nigel Chapman at the time) whom I turned it into, and who declared it 'finders keepers' and not 'trove'. If the latter it has to be handed in to the Queen. Apparently she owns anything that's intentionally buried for safekeeping if the burier is deemed to be long dead.

 

How wonderful to be re-connected to familiar old haunts, thank you so much for doing that and for asking me about this fascinating and historic survivor. I'll never see anything like that here in Tennessee, USA, that's for sure.

So glad to hear you still use it and I hope it continues to be used for its proper and sacred function for the next four hundred years!

Best wishes and grace and peace to you too.
Robert

Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
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Experience: Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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