This is one of the nicest antique Sheffield silver plate trays we have ever had the pleasure to offer. The size is unusually large for a round salver and the quality is exceptional. It belonged to members of the family of the Duke of Bolton.
The raised edge is ornamented with applied scrolls and foliate decoration of bold castings. The interior is wonderfully hand chased with stunning complimentary decoration of scrolls, leaves and flowers against a shimmering textured background.
Engraved in the center is a wonderful armorial device of three swords in a shield flanked by standing horses bearing crowns around their necks. Above the shield is a Marquis's coronet and below is a banner with the motto 'AYMEZ LOYAULTE'. This engraving is on a round inset piece of silver. This was an old technique used on antique Sheffield plate so that when engravers did their work, it wouldn't cut through to the copper underneath. It is one good way to validate its authenticity as old.
The tray is raised by four feet of scrolling bold foliate design.
The ancient family of Powlett is first recorded as accompanying Jeffrey Plantagenet, Earl of Anjou, third son of Henry II, from France. The accumulated titles over the centuries included Duke of Bolton, Marquis of Winchester, Earl of Wiltshire, Baron St. John of Basing and Premier Marquis of England.
In 1765, the fifth Duke died with only a female heir, who inherited the considerable estates but not the titles. Her husband was elevated to the peerage as Baron Bolton and the family seat continued to be Hackwood Park, near Basingstoke, where this tray likely lived (at least for part of it's life).
It bears the arms for the Marquis of Winchester, even though the title had expired. It is not uncommon for later generations to use earlier heraldic devices to symbolize the origin of the funds that paid for the silver (or silver plate) and that would be the situation with this tray. The estates of the Marquis of Winchester paid for the tray even though the title no longer existed.
Hackwood park recently went on the market as the most expensive country estate ever offered. (See here.)
As with most antique Sheffield plate, the tray is unmarked. This extraordinary tray measures 23.5 inches in diameter by 2.5 inches high and is in excellent antique condition.