William Eley & William Fearn English Sterling Silver Rare Double Bladed Server in the 'Fiddle Thread' Pattern, London, 1805/6 bearing the armorial badge of Power Trench, DD, Archbishop of Taum, County Galway, Ireland
A very rare form of Georgian silver, this elegant server in the fiddle thread pattern is wonderfully hand pierced and matches this fish server. Double bladed servers have traditionally been thought of fish servers and Dale Bennett in Silver Magazine (Jan/Feb 2002, p. 36) argues forcefully for their use as whitebait (small fried fish) servers. However, we sell them mostly as asparagus servers. This example is particularly nice as the top detaches easily from the bottom so it can also be a traditional Georgian trowel shaped fish server.
On the back of its handle, it is finely engraved with the badge of Power Trench, DD, Archbishop of Taum, County Galway, Ireland. It is fully marked on the back of the handle. Measuring x inches long and weighing x troy ounces, it is in very good/excellent condition.
Along with the matching fish server, this is the earliest piece of Fiddle Thread we've ever had. In fact, Ian Pickford in Silver Flatware (LINK) states the pattern did not become popular until about 1805. We do not see commonly until about 10 years later and the popularity before then seems to be largely amongst aristocrats. This fine server was passed down in the family with other silver, all dated 1805 with the same armorial badge, made by the excellent London silversmith Robert Garrard. These wonderful servers were probably made by Eley & Fearn and sold along with other silver to Trench by Garrard.
Power Trench, DD, Archbishop of Taum, was the second son of William Trench, 1st Earl of Clancarty. The Trenches were an important and interesting family from county Galway. First arriving in the 1730's, they were French Huguenots (Protestant) immigrants. They developed a textile industry (one of the Huguenot specialties) in the area of Ballinasloe, county Galway. Their business was prosperous and they quickly aligned themselves with their fellow Protestants, the English. Through business and political acumen, not to mention savvy marriages, they became one of the most important families in county Galway and rose in the English nobility to the rank of Earl in the early 19th century.
Interestingly, even though they aligned themselves with the English, they appear to have been very tolerant of Catholics and their faith, going so far as to let mass be performed within sight of their mansion while the practice was illegal. As French Huguenots, their background included one of religious persecution in France and they seemed to have no taste for the practice. Their ancestral home Garbally House, County Galway, is now the site of a Catholic boy's school, Garbally College.
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