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From Edinburgh’s other festival…

23 August 2011Written by ATG Reporter

The latest sale of Scottish silver at Lyon & Turnbull included a number of early Edinburgh hollowares, including this pair of James VI (I of England) communion cups.

Both carry marks for George Crauiford, Edinburgh, 1619-1621, and the deacon's mark of James Denniestoun.

While this form of communion cup with shallow hemispherical bowls - these measuring 7in (17.5cm) across - is well recorded in the Edinburgh and East Lothian area, these examples with sophisticated embossed and chased decoration to the feet are considered amongst the finest surviving.

As recorded in the Rev. Thomas Burns's 1892 catalogue Old Scottish Communion Plate, the pair originally formed part of a larger gift of five cups presented in 1621 to Inveresk Parish Church by Alexander Seton (1555-1622).

Inveresk, notable for its fine street of 17th and 18th century houses, now forms the southern part of Musselburgh. Although from a prominent Roman Catholic family, Seton was regarded as the finest legal mind of his day and rose to become Chancellor of Scotland in 1604 and later the first Earl of Dunfermline.

Both cups, each weighing 19.5oz showed signs of early repair to the stems, but were in generally good condition with well struck marks and clear detail to the foot decoration.

They were last on the market in 1999 when they were sold by Christie's South Kensington as separate lots for £28,000 and £32,000 at a time when the buyer's premium was 15 per cent.

Offered in Edinburgh on August 16 as a pair, they sold to a private collector at much the same sum, £59,000 (plus 25/20 per cent buyer's premium).

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ATG Reporter

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