A rare example of 18th century Jamaican silver was a highlight of the latest decorative works of art sale held by Matthew Barton of Blythe Road, Olympia.
It came in the form of this 11½in (29cm) George II period silver
coffee pot c.1775 marked for Anthony Danvers to both lid and base
and struck with the Jamaican sterling standard mark of an
alligator's head. It was possibly made by Abraham Le François, who
moved to Jamaica from England in 1749, around the same time as
Danvers. The initials SME engraved to the body were added
Ornately chased with the contemporary style of rococo scrolls
and foliage, the vessel reflects the island's great wealth based on
sugar cane plantations, the slaves imported from West Africa who
worked them, and rum production.
Jamaica supported at least 23 goldsmiths in 1775, around the
time when this coffee pot was made. From 1747 until about 1765, an
assay master regulated the quality of gold and silver wares made on
the island - unusual for British Colonies at the time. The act of
1747 stipulated that an assay master be appointed, who would be
"obliged to mark the said gold and silver wares with the stamp or
mark of an alligator's head, and the initial letters of his own
name", as seen on this example.
Although Jamaican silver is a rare visitor to the saleroom, a
few other pieces marked for Danvers have appeared on the market
over the past decade or so: at Bonhams a pair of silver
candlesticks sold for £8000 in 2003 and at Christie's South
Kensington a small silver snuffers tray c.1760, took £1700 in
Matthew Barton's example, an inherited piece consigned from a
private source, carried an estimate of £3000-5000 but on the day
doubled this to take £10,000 from a UK private buyer. The buyer's
premium was 20%.
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