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Robert W. Smith The Captain William McClintock-Bunbury Antique Irish Victorian Sterling Silver Covered Hot Beverage Pitcher, Dublin, 1852/53

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Exquisite repoussé of foliage and flowers includes scenes on both sides of a bird over groupings of fruit. Striking hand-chased details on a scaly background enhance this artistic creation. The hinged cover has a flat-domed top with cast and applied thumb-piece. Flat-chasing of foliage decorates the cover.

On the front of the bulbous body is a reserve with an engraved armorial badge with the motto 'VIS UNITA FORTIOR' around a leopard's head with two swords for Commander William Bunbury McClintock-Bunbury, R.N., of Lisnavagh, county Carlow, Ireland.

McClintock-Bunbury sailed on the HMS Samarang, accompanying the HMS Beagle with her passenger Charles Darwin, on part of that famous voyage. He also served as a Member of Parliament. A rather extensive biography of McClintock-Bunbury, written by a descendant, can be found here.

In 1847, Bunbury started building a new house in the Gothic style at Lisnavagh. Most of his new mansion, one of the largest homes in Ireland, was completed by 1852 and this jug was likely purchased as a stylish piece of silver to help furnish the interior.

The home was downsized and remodeled in the 1950's. Lisnavagh House is still available for rentals. While some of the scale has been lost, one of the prettiest settings in Ireland has not.

These delightful watercolors below of the original house, kindly supplied by the family, give us an idea of the mansion that was the original home to this pitcher and an idea of those who were privileged enough to have enjoyed its use.

During the 24 years we have been selling silver, we have seen many, many 18th century tankards that were refashioned during the 19th century to look like this. (Many have subsequently been refashioned again to look as they did in the 18th century.) It is only rarely that we see the original 19th century Victorian jugs that these tankards copied. This covered pitcher is a rare, beautiful and honest piece.

This rare antique Irish silver jug is fully hallmarked underneath and the cover is marked with the date letter 'g', used from June 26, 1852 until June 20, 1853. It measures 8.75 inches high by 7.5 inches across the handle and spout and weighs a hefty 30.10 troy ounces. It is in excellent condition (although it lacks its original exterior gilding which is still visible underneath the pedestal foot). The interior retains its original gilding.

Images courtesy of Turtle Bunbury.