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Order of the Garter Sterling Egg Cups

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English Silver151 of 177REPOUSSÉ STERLING SUGAR BOWL / TUMBLER CUP 1886help with these marks
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    Posted 12 years ago

    (42 items)

    I have been trying to find out information about these sterling egg cups for years. I have a matched set of 4, and they appear to be gilded inside. I believe they are egg cups, but could well be mistaken. I have researched the history of the order of the garter, but have always wondered if these may have belonged to someone that was a part of that order or is it common for someone not involved to have the motto inscribed on something of this sort. The one thing that I was not able to show well was the wording on the garter from the silver cup. It is the motto of the order of the garter in old french, Honi soit qui mal y pense. The cup is 2 3/4 high X 2 inches across the opening. The maker's mark is IF in joined ovals that I believe belongs to John Wilmin Figg. The uncrowned leopard head, queen's profile and date letter have given me information that it was made in London, and I believe the letter, though very stylized, appears to be an "E" which would make it 1840. The letters/monogram in the middle of the garter crest appear to be EC. ANY information you might have would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Magnificent! The cup is superb, and the image on the cup is hand-tooled, not impressed. The gilding would be consistent with an egg cup - it would protect the vessel against damage from the sulphur in eggs.

      The motto of the Most Noble Order of the Garter translates: "shame upon him who thinks evil upon it". The Order of the Garter is the highest order of chivalry in England. It was founded in 1348.

      I am very ignorant of the Order and am by no means proficient at reading silver hallmarks, so I am venturing an opinion only to get this show and tell started. I could not find an image associated with the order that corresponds to the image on your cup.

      RE hallmarks: I don't see an uncrowned leopard's head myself. If I read the hallmarks from left to right, I see the maker's mark IF (the "I" representing "J" of John Wilmin Figg); the next hallmark I tentatively propose is the Duty Mark of Queen Victoria I, 1830-1890; the Lion Passant indicates sterling; the 'E' hallmark is hard for me to read, and I cannot see the last hallmark at all. Is there any chance of getting better photos of the duty mark, the 'E' mark, and the last mark? Better images will help one of the silver connoisseurs at Collectors Weekly to render a correct reading.

      Figg was a silversmith of high eminence. On webpage "Koopman Rare Art", I see his work for sale along with that of Paul De Lamerie, Paul Storr, and Robert Garrard, whom you will recognize as silversmiths patronized by English sovereigns. The webpage provides a summary of John Figg.

      Magnificent items! Soon someone will come along and finish reading the hallmarks for you.

      I cannot clearly see the hallmarks on your piece, but what I can see looks consistent with your reading.
    2. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Sorry. Please delete the "I cannot clearly see the hallmarks on your piece, ....your reading." Thought I'd deleted that. Thanks.
    3. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Sorry! Was reading Collectors Weekly this morning instead of drinking morning coffee. Must have been half asleep when I read your posting. I think I've got you now. Your reading of the hallmarks omitted the Duty Mark of Queen Victoria, didn't it? You hallmark at the opposite end from Victoria would be your uncrowned leopard? I can't see it at all, but it if is an uncrowned leopard, then I too read the 'E' as signifying 1840.

      Yes, the initials in the engraving are "EC", but again, I can't confirm that the general design of the engraving corresponds to any Order of the Garter image. I am completely ignorant of the order. Again, I remark that the design has been rendered entirely by hand engraving.

      I'm glad you provided dimensions. I'm hoping that one of those CW persons who know silver will weigh in on whether or not these are egg cups - and confirm your reading of the hallmarks. These cups are truly splendid! If they were mine, I'd never let them out of my sight. Now, off for some more coffee. Regards, miKKo
    4. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Final comment - there is more than one uncrowned leopard. A photo would help those silver people to give you a good confirmation. Thanks!
    5. chinablue chinablue, 12 years ago
      miKKoChristmas11. thanks for taking the time to look at this post and offer your comments and links. I have posted a couple more pictures that hopefully show the markings more clearly. I read the hallmarks as IF for Wilmin Figg, then the Queen Victoria duty mark, the lion passant for London, the letter as E for 1840 (but for me that letter is really hard to be sure of.. that font is nuts!) the undcrowned leopard (or lion if you prefer) is in a chevron shape with cut upper corners.
      I really LOVE these things but would love to find out more about the Order of the Garter connection. I've always wondered if any ordinary person could or would want to have had these made even though there weren't members or were they crafted for someone that was actually a Knight or Lady of the Order. I have tried to look at some of the crests of members and from what little I have found, the crown on this crest is much like the one done for members from Norway, the Netherlands, Poland or Spain as I found here
      but that's really just a shot in the dark. I'll keep looking and hope to find an answer to who might have commissioned these cups! Wouldn't that be a great little mystery to solve!?
    6. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Hi, chinablue. Thanks for your most gracious response and the great photos.

      You are very good with hallmarks. Please don't hesitate to correct me if I err! I read the maker marks as belonging to the son of Wilmin Figg, i.e., John Wilmin Figg. Follow two different links to his mark. After you've viewed them, would you please tell me why you think that the silversmith was instead Wilmin Figg? Thanks! - I need to learn.

      Now, you've provided two excellent photos of the marks - bravo!!! The "E" is clearest in the first hallmark photo. It doesn't drive me bonkers because I was a calligrapher. Almost all of us schoolgirls learned calligraphy, and many of us have kept up the custom of sending many of our thank you notes in calligraphy. So, I am confident of the "E". (The only other letters close to the "E" are "C" and "G", and your excellent photos clearly enable me to discern that it's an "E", and definitely not a “C” or a “G”.) It's a good thing, too, because without the "E", I would be alarmed by the difficulty of discerning the exact form & features of the uncrowned leopard's head. The "E", with the other info, indicates to me that this was assayed in 1840 London. Do you think that my reading of the hallmarks is impossible, or improbable? Is the reading internally inconsistent? Is there external evidence that I have read the marks improperly? Please don't hesitate to correct me. I love to learn.

      Yes, I think that these items were most probably! made for someone who was or was soon to be a member of the order. It's a most prestigious honor, one of preeminence, and I don't think anyone who aspired to belong to this illustrious body, or any higher social set, would have dared presume to order them for himself if he did not belong, or have firm expectations of being soon 'installed'. (Not claiming that "installed" is the proper word.) The same reasoning applies to a gift one might order for another at a silversmith. Now, if this a very grand article, such as an elaborate soup tureen, etc., I might wonder if it could possibly be the gift of a sovereign. However, I would only be hypothesizing, for I am smart enough to know that I am completely ignorant of the order and of the customs that attend it. I have a suggestion. John Wilmin Figg was a prestigious silversmith, a purveyor - if that's the right word for a master silversmith - to English sovereigns. If I were you, for a start, I'd email your questions on these matters to Anyone who sells Paul de Lamerie and Paul Storr knows silver. If this were my piece, I would be curious as to the identity of "EC", for my hypothesis would be that they were the initials of the 'owner', though I also remark that it would be much more common, I think, for someone marking a grand article of silver to adopt a three-letter monogram. If they are the initials of the member, there might well be a record preserved of their commission and/or issue. Even if they are not the initials of the recipient, I still think it would be well to search for extant records.

      As for the order of the garter, I am no help at all. I see that there is an official page that references this order, and an option for making inquiries. Myself, I'd start with

      Thank you very much for your kind response. I very much enjoyed working on this. And I look forward to being corrected if I've made a mistake! Regards, miKKo
    7. chinablue chinablue, 12 years ago
      You seem to know your way around hallmarks pretty well yourself! :-)
      I'm sorry if I mislead or confused you by not typing out the full John Wilmin Figg when I last posted. You are correct that it was John Wilmin Figg , NOT Wilmin Figg as I had typed it in my last post. I certainly envy you your ability not only to read calligraphy without any problem, but also the talent to create it. It took me forever with a jewelers loupe to make out it was what appeared to be an E, not G or C. Until you confirmed that it was an "E", I was still not certain. Had it not been for the duty mark, I could easily have been confused by the date letters from 1756-1775.
      Like you, I felt that the crest would more likely have had three initials, but when it comes to British (or any) royalty for that matter, the names and initials are quite confusing to me.
      Thanks for the information about the koopman link. I have had NO idea where to start to find out who it might have been made for! I will send them some information and see what I can find out. And I'll post it back here if I find out anything. Also, when I need help reading my next set of hallmarks, I'll be looking for you! Thanks again for your help.
    8. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Hi, chinablue. Many thanks for your most gracious comments! Can't wait to see what you discover as you sleuth this through. Can't wait to see more of your treasures, for that matter! Regards, miKKo
    9. chinablue chinablue, 12 years ago
      Update: After contacting the British Museum and being referred by them to the Victoria and Albert Museum, I'm now waiting to here from their Metalwork department as to any further information about these.
    10. chinablue chinablue, 12 years ago
      Thank you for your comments and suggestions Hems303! You answered one of my prime questions about these when you said "Only a Member of the Order would have been made such an item by any reputable Silversmith who would ask for credentials BEFORE work started". I HAVE heard back from the V&A, just the other day in fact. They stated in part:
      ...the original owner of the egg cup would have had it specially made as a member of the Order of the Garter. From your photograph of the hallmarks, I conclude that it was produced in 1840, from the Gothic-type letter E. I would suggest that you contact St George's Chapel Windsor, the home of the Order of the Garter." They also confirmed the cups were by John Wilmin Figg.
      I have since sent an email to St. George's Chapel and so far have heard nothing from them and perhaps may never. There is an archive at their online site, but honestly I can't make heads or tails of it! The curator at the V&A suggested that I may be able to research the initials there, but must confess that when it comes to British names/titles I have a lot of trouble knowing which of their many names they would have used in cases such as this. If you or anyone else have any thoughts on this and would like to look, you can go to and have a go at it. I'll keep trying, and with the information about the Baronet, I may be able to narrow my search. I have also wondered how important the date marked on the cups may be. For instance, was this the year that someone became a member, or perhaps an anniversary of that honor, or even their marriage?? I'll be sure and keep everyone posted if and when I find out more! :-)
    11. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Hi, chinablue! Great to see you back. Hope you and your Jimbo are well and joyous.

      I was thrilled to see your posting this morning! Wonderful news! And thrilled to see Hems303's posting, as well. Great news from the V&A! Yes, I saw the St. George's site when I was researching and did not feel competent to field it. I had consulted the webpage of the College of Arms and had read: "It is recommended that you read this website thoroughly before making any enquiry, as we receive many enquiries that could have been answered by reference to information available here. Enquiries that display a complete failure to have read the website may not receive a reply." So, I'm afraid I'm no help at all here. However, I would ask Hems303 why he thought that the coronet on the egg cups represented a Baronet's coronet. He may well be correct!!! I am just wondering, as the following webpage contains images of coronets that seem to me to resemble your egg cup coronet more closely than the Baronet's 'generic' coronet. E.g., a crown that to me resembled your egg cup crown more closely than the Baronet's is labeled "King Juan Carlos of Spain". My review was quite cursory, AND I KNOW NOTHING OF CROWNS OR THE ORDER OF THE GARTER!

      Chinablue, I should think that St. George's would answer you. I hope you get an answer soon. I was also excited to read Hems303's suggestion about writing to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, London. Sounds like an excellent idea. Well, I am much behind in my work - ah, so behind!, and I must swear off CW for today, but I couldn't resist responding to this. You will find your answer, chinablue! Your diligence and scholarship will pay off. Hope your Sunday is blessed, miKKo.
    12. chinablue chinablue, 12 years ago
      miKKo, thanks again for your help and encouragement to contact the various people and organizations in regards to these egg cups as well as the miniature Chalon painting. I would never have found out what I have at this point if you hadn't encouraged me and pointed me in the right direction! I had just about given up after all these years. *L* I too was pleased to see Hems303's input and hope that perhaps he will have some insight into researching the archives at St Georges. As always it was wonderful to hear from you and I trust you too are well. :-)
    13. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Hi, chinablue and Hems303! Thank you very much for your gracious kindness, chinablue! Hems303, you are a dangerous man, and I am delighted to see your findings! I reviewed the Baronet image that you so kindly provided, and I must say that I still don't get it. I don't doubt you; I'm just not familiar enough with the forms to render a judgment. I look forward to learning more - no doubt that if I look at the crowns and coronets long enough, I will get your point too.

      Hems303, I don't think I get your point about the owner of these egg cups wanting others to know that he was a Baronet before being 'elected' to the Order of the Garter - if 'elected' (appointed) is the appropriate word. To me, it would seem to indicate to me that the person was a baronet, but also that he did not additionally hold a peerage title. Is this inference a good one, or am I totally missing the beam? (I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BRITISH 'RANKS', CROWNS, & CORONETS!) Here's one final Wikipedia link - to the baronetage of England.

      So glad you're working on this, Hems303! I'll be closely watching chinablue's and your progress with delight. Many thanks! miKKo
    14. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Hems303, that is fabulous! I'm sorry about the lingo - "Dangerous Man" is a big compliment. Means someone who gets things done - thoroughly done, and quickly! Smart, smart, bold, even stylishly....I speak Southern/Southwestern style - sometimes slangy. I'm going to sit on the sidelines and just cheer you on mighty loudly! Wow. Take a bow, sir. Everything you wrote is of great value. And about the crown, the terminal didn't seem to jive with the baronet, and neither did the arcs. However, I'm not sure at all about my arc bit, so please just ignore my comments. I know NOTHING about British crowns, coronets, and the symbols and signs that designate British rank. The only things I know about British rank came from common articles and from Jane Austen's "Persuasion". I knew from "Persuasion" that a Baronet is not a peer. There you have an account of my full knowledge of British rank. As I said, you've done a fabulous job on this, and I'm going to cheer you and chinablue on from the sidelines. Bravo.
      miKKo : D
    15. chinablue chinablue, 12 years ago
      Well... all I can say is WOW! My head is spinning at this point with all the fantastic new information the "dangerous" (in the sense of being well informed and his incredible tenacity and persistence in his research) Hems303 has been kind enough to ferret out and share with me. And miKKo, right in there too.. cheering me on and being as dogged as Hems with so many of my shares! Being ignorant of British heraldry and rank among titled persons, it is a lot of important information that will take me a while to properly process and digest. I cannot thank you enough for your input and hope to be able to process it with my weary brain. I do have a little more information that supports the belief that the crown above the Garter Crest is totally separate. I just received a letter from St Georges. They were gracious enough to contact me and offer the following, in part:
      "... The crown above the Garter in your picture is not part of the Garter badge, and so it may be a clue as to who the person might be. Despite being the home of the Order, we have very few records relating to the Garter as it is overseen by the College of Arms. The information that we do have is lists of Knights and I haven’t been able to find anything obvious. The only possible, and admittedly a long shot is:
      602 Erenst Augustus, Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, later Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, King of Hanover. Fifth son of the Sovereign [George III]. Nominated 2 June 1786, died 1851.
      My advice would be to contact the College of Arms to see if they can help. They should be able to give more information about what sort of person would be entitled to use that crown."
      So, Hems303, it seems you are certainly on the right track about more research into the crown perhaps being a key point in these egg cups. I will keep my fingers crossed that you hear from the 12th Duke Of Devonshire and will share it with me. Also, please thank your friend Richard for his input and assistance! miKKo, thanks again for all your cheerleading and great questions and for hanging in there on these cups, as well as that miniature. I won't be back until sometime next week as we are going to visit our daughter and her family. Can't wait to see what we find out next. I plan on posting an email to the College of Arms after we get back and we'll see where THAT leads! I appreciate all the help! :-)
    16. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Hi, Hems303! Splendid news! Bravo! (FYI, the CW website was having problems last night, so we couldn't comment on your exciting advance then.) Can hardly wait! miKKo
    17. chinablue chinablue, 12 years ago
      WOW! Can't wait to see what you find out next, Hems303. I have been delightfully surprised with the assistance that both you and I have received from all these various museums, organizations and individuals in Great Britain researching these (as well as my miniature on ivory). I have tried for years to get some information here in the states and have never received ANY responses. I can understand that they may know nothing of any help, but you would think they could at least let you know that much! I am SO glad I decided to put them on this site and have been blessed with help from others here that have helped and have been able to point me in the right direction for more information. Hems303, if you need any other photos of these, please let me know and I'll post them or email them to you. I'm like miKKo, I can hardly wait to find out what the next post might be!
    18. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 12 years ago
      Hi, Hems303! Many thanks for your kind update, and also, once again, for your terrific input on the 'Hong Kong' military helmet. Best wishes for a splendid holiday! miKKo
    19. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 11 years ago
      Hi, ROBinHawaii! Fascinating hypothesis on the Garter silver egg cups! Valuable work! Hems303 will be able to appreciate your hypothesis better than I. I am clueless on crowns, British nobility, and orders.

      Please forgive me for posting my comments here, but I would like to ask you a question, please, about the images you so kindly enhanced for me. I received an enhanced image this morning that renders the signature on the larger medal crystal clear to me, but the date is odd. She thinks that this dates to "1914". I think that the "1" that precedes the "4" must really be a two, though I can't see clearly. The "1" that precedes the "9" is a simple downward hatch mark - without 'eave' at top, or 'foot' at bottom. The number that precedes the "4" is a little different. Can you confirm "1924" for certain, please? Also, the signature you read - was from the large/full-sized medal, or the small medal? Did you have any success at all with the small medal? I haven't a clue what the motto is on that and am really keen to find out. Also the signature and date signature. (Not the date atop the central medallion, but the date that follows the signature.) Thanks a million!!! I look forward to being able to return this huge favor! miKKo
    20. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 11 years ago
      Message to ROBinHawaii: Thanks so much for your great help!!! Just received confirmation with enhanced image of your 1924 date on the larger/full-sized medal. If you should happen to discover anything about the writing on the small medal, I would so appreciate it if you'd post it to my Belgian Volunteer Combatant's Plaque show and tell item. Thank you, thank you!!! miKKo
    21. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 11 years ago
      Hi, Hems and Chinablue, and all! A much-deserved Bravo! to Hems for his insight, careful hypotheses, splendid research, and gracious and thorough inquiries! Very well done, sir. The solution to hard problems is often found through negation. I consider that you have made very solid advances.

      I am also very grateful to Ms. Eleanor Brooke for her great generosity. Truly, she was kind.

      Hello, kind Chinablue. Hope you and Jimbo are well and staying quite clear of falling timber.

      Chinablue, if this is one of your wonderful family heirlooms perhaps you provide us with a possible date range of family ownership, and with the approximate year in which you first saw them. You would have noticed the engraving on them immediately, and it might be helpful to know what year it was that you first viewed these. If Hems is correct in his estimation of the relatively 'less than superb' engraving on these cups, then perhaps his hypothesis that these might well have been engraved during a time of war should now be considered. If these egg cups were your grandmother's, it's perhaps unlikely that they were engraved during WWI or WWII. Again, seeking 'advance through negation'. Thanks so much. Hope you're enjoying your holiday with Virigina and family. : ) Regards, miKKo
    22. chinablue chinablue, 11 years ago
      Hello miKKo and Hems.. sorry I've been away. Jim's brother became quite ill about a month ago. The doctors had thought things could improve and did for a couple of weeks but sadly, he passed away after taking a sudden bad turn last week. We have had lots of family and friends in from out of town for the funeral and our daughter and her family have stayed a bit longer to help out. I honestly haven't had a chance to really digest all that has been written since I was here last, but I did skim over it enough to get the gist of it. Thanks to everyone that has contributed to this search. It may be a week or two before I'm back on track again but please know that I haven't forgotten you and appreciate all your help.
    23. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 11 years ago
      Hello, Chinablue. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I will keep Jim and his brother in my prayers. Please take care of yourself, too. Peace upon your household. Sincerely, miKKo
    24. inky inky, 11 years ago
      Thinking of you!...:-)
    25. chinablue chinablue, 11 years ago
      Thanks to everyone for their comments and concern. Life has had us down but not out for quite a while now but as usually happens, these things have passed and I'm glad to be back. I have missed everyone and look forward to working on these @#*^% egg cups again, once I find out where we were with these! *LOL* I appreciate all the kindness expressed. :-)
    26. chinablue chinablue, 9 years ago
      Where in the world does the time go!? I can't believe it's been 3 years since my last post here. Life happens.. and it's been good but I have really missed out on keeping up with my friends here and their discoveries and collections. I'm STILL trying to find out more about these egg cups, but so far without any success. Thanks again for all the help, the time and effort put into finding out what I know so far about them. If I ever find out anything more, I will be sure to post it!
    27. Agaholic, 8 years ago
      Hello and thanks for this informative thread. I found an order of the garter symbol on a set of sterling silver forks by Lias in 1817. Still trying to figure out what the animal in the center is, it is some sort of pegasus or greyhound or perhaps St. George slaying the dragon instead of initials like your example. I will try to add a pic. Thanks!
    28. chinablue chinablue, 8 years ago
      Agoholic, I'm glad that you found this post helpful. PLEASE try to load a picture of your forks. I would love to see them!
    29. Agaholic, 8 years ago
      I would love to post them here. They are large dinner forks in the king's pattern by John and Henry Lias in 1817. It did not take long to solve the mystery in the family crest section of nine two five dash one thousand dot com. I do not mean to cross-link sites, but I am new here and not sure how to load pics yet. I was given some tips that solved my mystery and pointed to the 9th Earl Of Winchilsea due to the animal in the center that is a winged pegasus. The expert gave me advice to find the date on the sterling silver and then find the "List of the Knights of the Garter" that lists every single person who ever joined this society, 1348-present. So in your case, we need to find someone with the initials "EC" around 1840? It is interesting that the quality of my engraving is similar to the quality of your engraving. For sure our engravings were done by a journeyman and not an expert, as I have seen expert engraving and it is much more precise than our engravings.

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