Dunham Massey Silver Collection
Warrington Silver: The Unique Silver Commissions of the Earl of Warrington
George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington, was an important albeit eccentric patron of the leading Huguenot silversmiths of his day, and his vast and well-documented collection provides us with a fascinating portrait not only of the Earl’s personality but also of the use of silver in a great English country house of the first half of the 18th century.
On his succession in 1693, the 2nd Earl inherited his father’s title, but also his enormous debts. A strategic but ultimately unhappy marriage to Mary Oldbury, the daughter of a rich London merchant, brought him a dowry, which gave him the means to rejuvinate Dunham Massey. Aside from improving its park in which he planted over 100,000 trees The 2nd Earl devoted himself to building an immense silver collection.
“The Warrington Plate” as it is categorized, is distinguished by its uniformly high quality, exceptionally heavy gauge, and its conservative taste, as the Earl favored the plain and massive fashions of the early 18th century. His near obsession with expanding the collection at Dunham Massey is underscored by the existence of a lengthy inventory written in his own hand, titled “The Particular of my Plate & its Weight.” The seventeen-page document, dated 1750 and amended by the Earl in 1754, records over 25,000 ounces of silver objects.
The Earl’s only child, Mary, married Harry (Grey), 4th Earl of Stamford in 1736, and after Warrington’s death in 1758, Dunham Massey passed to them and subsequently descended in the Grey family. A significant portion of the Warrington Plate was sold by their heirs at Christie’s in two sales, on April 20, 1921, and February 25, 1931.
For the full biography of the 2nd Earl of Warrington and a complete study of his silver collection including a transcription of the silver inventory, see the Book by James Lomax and James Rothwell, Country House Silver from Dunham Massey, 2006. – National Trust UK.
The following are some examples of Christies Auction sales of the Dunham Massey Silver Note the prices paid in 2010. Also note the coat of arms.
Price Realized: $92,500
19 Oct 2010
New York, Rockefeller Plaza
AN IMPORTANT SET OF SIX GEORGE II SILVER DINNER PLATES FROM THE WARRINGTON PLATE
MARK OF PETER ARCHAMBO I, LONDON, 1728
Each circular, the border engraved with a coat-of-arms, motto, and supporters surmounted by an Earl’s coronet, each engraved on reverse with inventory number and scratch-weight: No. 50 21-17, No. 51 21-6-½, No. 52 21-12 ½, No. 53 21-5, No. 54 21-14-½, No. 64 21-12-½, marked on reverses
9¾ in. (23.5 cm.) diameter; 128 oz. (3,988 gr.) (6)
The present plates are listed among the “12 douzen of Plates” in the Earl’s inventory, all made by Peter Archambo in 1728. Typical of Warrington’s silver, these plates are extrordinarily heavy, each weighing about two ounces more than the usual plate of this size and period. Also characteristic is the virtuoso engraving, displaying the Earl’s full heraldic achievement.
A FINE GEORGE II SILVER COVERED OATMEAL BOX FROM THE WARRINGTON PLATE – MARK OF JAMES SHRUDER, LONDON, 1745
Plain circular and on moulded rim foot, the body and detachable domed cover each engraved with a coat-of-arms, motto and supporters beneath an Earl’s coronet, marked on base and cover, and engraved with scratch weights 14=10 and 6 oz=1
5 in. (12.8 cm.) diameter; 20 oz. (631 gr.)
This unusual “oatmeal” box is one of three listed in the Earl of Warrington’s inventory “For the rooms” of Dunham Massey. The two other oatmeal boxes, which sold in the 1921 Foley Grey auction at Christie’s, have now returned to the ancestral home of the Earl of Warrington.
Price Realized: $62,500
19 Oct 2010
New York, Rockefeller Plaza
A FINE GEORGE II SILVER SALVER FROM THE WARRINGTON PLATE
MARK OF PETER ARCHAMBO I, LONDON, 1731
Shaped circular, with Bath border, on three cast scroll feet, engraved with a coat-of-arms, motto and supporters surmounted by an Earl’s coronet, marked on reverse and engraved with scratch weight 39=0
11 in. (28 cm.) diameter; 38 oz. (1,196 gr.)
Mr Booth takes a very expensive wee wee………………..
George Booth ( 2nd Earl Of Warrington) Solid Silver Chamber pot, below sells at Auction for £10,450 in London in 1984.
This silver chamber pot above, weighs just over 1kg and is 7” or 18cm in Diameter with engraved Booth Coat of Arms – one would think this is just the right size for a noble wee wee in the middle of the night.
Now this is indulgent , being able to toilet into a solid sterling silver bowl.
Before toilets as we know them today, the chamber pot or bed pan was a bowl-shaped container with a handle, and often a lid, kept in the bedroom under a bed or in the cabinet of a nightstand and generally used as a toilet at night.
Some other items recorded sold at auction from the original Dunham Massey silver collection …………..
12 Sliver Dinner plates above made in London 1728 – P. Archambo I for George Booth 2nd Earl of Warrington – sold 1983 for £41,800…
Also above a finely designed Toilet service – a selection made ( 1728 London – by Liger) for either Mary Countess of Warrington or daughter Lady Mary Booth, only child and heiress to George Booth 2nd Earl of Warrington. Sold 1966 £14,500
Images Courtesy of Sotheby’s publication- The Sotheby’s Directory of Silver 1600 – 1940 , by Vanessa Brett