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Details & Cataloguing

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A Wrythen Knop Spoon, circa 1400
the gilt terminal with lap joint, slightly tapering hexagonal stem, the back of the bowl with a small engraved and gilded escallop shell motif
17.1cm, 6 3/4 in long
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Provenance

Sotheby's London, 28 February 1991, lot 250

Literature

Commander GEP How, English and Scottish Silver Spoons, London, 1952, Volume I, Chapter I, Section IV, p76
Ibid. Vol I, Ch. II, p143
Ibid. Vol I, Ch. I, p9 1B
Ibid. Vol I, Ch. I, p9, 1A
Ibid. Vol I, Ch.I, Sec. IV, p78
CC Oman, English Church Plate, London, 1957, plates 7 & 9
How, Vol I, Addendum, pl.3
Ibid, Vol I, Ch. II, Sec. IV, p181

Catalogue Note

This spoon which is of fine proportions and in a fine state of preservation displays clear characteristics of its early date.  The stem is almost perfectly hexagonal with only a very slight taper.  English spoons post 1478 tend to have broader upper and lower facets to facilitate marking and also have a more pronounced taper.  The finial is fixed by a lap joint which is the common form for early English large finial spoons whilst London made spoons post 1500 invariably use a V-joint.  The angle between the bowl and the stem is consistent with spoons of circa 1400.  The bowl is accentuated fig shape and the angle at the top face is more acute than later examples.

The spoon has features in common with the Whittington hexagonal knopped spoons belonging to the Mercers' Company and can be attributed to a similar or slightly earlier date.  The triple bar hexagonal platform to the finial is of particular note but differs from the former by being set with the angles of the hexagon at the centre of the plain surfaces of the stem.  The finial, although superficially close in form to recorded 15th century wrythen knops, differs by having six deeply incised flanges as opposed to the former's ribbed and lobed sphere.  This deeply carved knop is a decorative feature found ons tems of 13th and 14th century English chalices.  The soldering of the finial was either not successful or has been disturbed at a later date as a small solder run can be discerned and the whole is set at a rakish angle.  The gilded shell of fan motif on the back of the bowl appears to have no recorded parallel.  There are examples, however, with the religious mongram hatched, gilded and similarly positioned.
This spoon is, at the attributed date, the earliest recorded with a wrythen knop.

Important Silver, Gold Boxes & Objects of Vertu

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London