Of cylindrical form, this beautiful regency wine coaster features a shaped flaring circular rim with applied acanthus and gadrooned decoration around the edge. The turned wooden base has a central silver insert, engraved with the crest of His Majesty King George III. It is engraved along the side of the base "No 6 10 oz 10 dwt British Embassy to Washington."
This coaster, or decanter stand as it was then called, is part of the ambassadorial service which accompanied Charles Bagot, Minister Plenipotentiary (similar to an ambassador), on his mission to Washington in 1815. This was an important mission.
Although the War of 1812 officially ended in 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, the demilitarization of the border and ensuing peaceful relations with our northern neighbor, British North America (now Canada), still needed negotiating. Bagot was sent to negotiate these issues, resulting in the Rush-Bagot Treaty of 1816. The successful negotiation of this treaty forged the beginning of the 'special relationship' the two (three) countries have enjoyed ever since.
Charles Bagot, second son of William Bagot (1st Baron Bagot of Bagot's Bromley), had a long and distinguished career in the British Foreign Service. After serving in Washington, he was Ambassador to Russia, the Netherlands and Austria. His final post was Governor-General of Canada, where he helped develop the legal and political foundation of the 'Dual-Majority,' still the fabric of Canadian society today. He also served as a Member of Parliament, on the Privy Council and as Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He was awarded a knighthood, The Order of the Bath.
Ambassadorial silver plays an important role in the ceremony of an embassy and it is fun to speculate who used this coaster. Certainly presidents James Madison, James Monroe (Secretary of State 1811-17) and John Quincy Adams (Secretary of State 1817-25) were entertained at functions featuring this coaster. Who knows who else?
This coaster is fully marked on the side of the base, and the silver insert bears the lion passant and maker's mark. It measures 7 inches in diameter and 2.125 inches high. It is in very good condition with light wear from use. The marks on the body are somewhat rubbed (which is common with coasters due to the fact that they are assayed before the wooden base is inserted). The marks on the insert are very crisp.