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Sebastian & James Crespell English Sterling Silver Soup Plates, London, 1767/68, set of 12

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This is a stunning set of twelve mid-eighteenth century soup plates. With raised sides, a shaped edge and an applied gadroon border, these elegant plates set a stunning table. There is an engraved crest of a hand holding a knife underneath the motto 'MERITO' for the Scottish family of Dunlop from Garnkirk and Carmyle, and later from Dryfesdale, Co. Dumfries.

Sebastian and James Crespell were important 'largeworkers' and the leading plate makers of their day. They supplied George III's first royal silversmith Thomas Heming with much wrought plate, and after 1770 became the principal suppliers for Parker and Wakelin. As such, their holloware graced the finest tables in Great Britain including those of King George III, several of his sons, many Dukes, Earls, etc. (See Silver in London: The Parker and Wakelin Partnership 1760-1776 by Helen Clifford, pp. 75-6)

The Dunlop family has included many important members. It is difficult to ascertain precisely how old the crest is, so we cannot pinpoint the original owner. Colin Dunlop (1706-1777), served as Bailie, Dean of the Guild and Provost (similar to mayor) of Glasgow in the 1760's and early 1770's. Later members of the family have served as Members of Parliament and other important roles.

These lovely sterling silver bowls are hallmarked underneath with the lion passant (sterling), leopard's head crowned, 'm' date mark for 1767/68 and with the maker's mark for Sebastian and James Crespell. They are also numbered consecutively from 61-72, obviously once belonging to a larger service. Each retains the original scratch weights underneath. They measure 9.5 inches in diameter and have a total weight of 219 troy ounces. Although polished 50 or 75 years ago, they are in very good condition with minor interior scratching from use.

Provenance: Ex collection of Marge Schott, owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.