The arms on the other side are those of the Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882-1951) of Prussia, son and heir of Wilhelm II (1859-1941), Emperor of Germany.
The likely occasion upon which this flask was given by Edward VII to his great nephew, Crown Prince Wilhelm was the latter’s marriage on 6 June 1905 to the Duchess Cecilie Auguste Marie (1886-1954), youngest daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III von Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
This present flagon is an enlarged copy of the so-called ‘Churchill’ pilgrim flask, standing 41cm. (16in. high), bearing the maker’s mark only of Pierre Platel of London, circa 1710. It was given by the art collector, Claude Dickason Rotch (1878-1961) in 1927 to the Victoria and Allbert Museum. The ‘Churchil’ flask is engraved with the original coat-of-arms of General Charles Churchill (1656-1714) as well as the slightly later arms of his elder brother, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722). The whereabouts of this Queen Anne masterpiece was unknown during much of the 19th century until it came onto the open market in 1892 when on 27 May it was sold at Christie’s as ‘the property of a Gentleman, deceased.’
By the end of the 19th century it had become something of a tradition in royal circles to present plate on the occasion of weddings and wedding anniversaries. The pilgrim flask, in various sizes, was often chosen as a fittingly imposing gift, such as the large example from R. & S. Garrard & Co., London, which was presented to the Czar and Czarina of Russia on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary in 1891 (Sotheby’s, English Silver Treasures from The Kremlin, a loan exhibition, London, 1 to 28 January 1991, no. 111)
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