This is a very rare and interesting item in antique Sheffield silver plate. It is rectangular with an applied gadrooned rim and an applied band foot. There is an inset blank on one side which is engraved with the Hamilton family crest underneath a viscount's coronet.
While commonly refereed to as 'knife trays' today, this form was referred to both as 'knife trays' and 'bread trays' in period literature. Bread is much more likely the original intended use. This is the largest example we have ever seen and would certainly hold many baguettes!
This magnificent serving tray measures 22 inches long by 8.25 deep by 4.5 inches high at the ends. There are no makers' marks, as is the case with most antique Sheffield silver plate, and it is in wonderful condition.
Provenance: The Hamilton family is one of the oldest, most distinguished and most titled families in Great Britain. (Titles including: the Dukedoms of Hamilton, Brandon, Abercorn and Chatellerault; Marquisates of Hamilton, Douglas and Clydesdale; Earldoms of Hamilton, Cambridge, Dudley, Angus, Arran, Ruglan, Clanbrassill and Lanark; Viscounts of Boyne, Ednam of Ednam, Strabane, Claneboye and Hamilton; Lordships of Bellhaven and Stenton, Bargeny, Abernathy and Jedburgh Forest, Aven and Innerdale, Machansyre and Polmont, Hamilton, Paisley, Aberbrothick, Abercorn, Mountcastle and Kilpatrick; Baronies of Holmpatrick, Hamilton of Stackallan, Hamilton of Glenawly, Brancepeth, Ward of Birmingham, Dutton, Strabane and Mountcashell along with numerous Baronetcies.)
Interestingly, only one viscount title was in use as a primary title during this period, so most likely this belonged to Gustavus Hamilton, 5th Viscount Boyne (1749-1816). His son, Gustavus, succeeded his father as the 6th Viscount Boyne in 1816. It was probably used at his residence at 6 Sackville St. and his country estates: Stackallan, County Meath or Burwarton Hall, County Salop.