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Scottish Puritan scoops £27,000

23 August 2010Written by ATG Reporter

PURITAN spoons are not uncommon survivors in English silver but, for reasons still largely unknown, Scottish examples are very rare. To date, only nine hallmarked or provincial examples are known.

Of these, the so-called Barncleuch spoon, seen at Lyon & Turnbull of Edinburgh on August 16 is the earliest.

Struck for the Edinburgh smith George Cleghorne, 1653-55 (and for the assay master Deacon Andrew Burrell) it is typically plain save three V cut notches to the terminal and the owners' initials QH / MD engraved to the reverse of the bowl.

Given that the spoon was reputedly found in the terraced gardens of Barncleuch House, it appears that the upper initials QH stand for Quintin Hamilton of Barncleuch (whose grandfather John Hamilton, Commissary of Hamilton and Campsie, built the house in 1583) while the lower MD must be for Marion Denham, his wife. The date of their marriage so far remains untraced but is presumably roughly contemporary to the spoon.

The saleroom history of their spoon dates back to 1982 when it fetched £3200 at Sotheby's Gleneagles. It was bought by spoon specialists How of Edinburgh who later sold it in 1993 to Lyon & Turnbull's vendor. It formed part of the Silver; Made In Scotland exhibition at the National Museums of Scotland in 2008.

As the highlight of last week's Scottish silver sale at Lyon & Turnbull, it improved upon its estimate of £12,000-15,000, bringing £27,000 (plus 25 per cent buyer's premium) from a private UK-based collector.

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ATG Reporter

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