Description & Technical information

These very fine silver objects are snuffers on a snuffer-tray from the Britannia Standard period. The object contains two parts: the tray and the snuffers. The eight-sided form of this rectangular tray has in the interior of the rim a chased line.

The tray is standing on four bun feet and on its lengthy site there is a casted spatula-shaped handle affixed. The overall form of the object (tray and handle) is typical of the early 18th century in England. The snuffers are composed of two limbs of a not equal length. When they close the united pans are shaping the semi-circular holder of the wick. The connection screw is equally of silver. A very artfully engraved coat of arms adorns the backside of the wick-holder. The hallmarks have been punched in the wick-holder, on the snuffers’ limbs and under the tray. Snuffers and snuffer-tray present a very well executed work.

The snuffers have an old history. The first to be mentioned are on a jeweller’s notice addressed to Isabella of Bavaria from the year 1400. Since the 17th century the snuffers are mentioned as belonging together with a tray. In England snuffers are mentioned in inventories since the 15th century. The snuffers and snuffer-tray were very often manufactured from different specialised silversmiths. Many surviving pairs of the same period with different hallmarks offer a proof for that.
The wick of the candles was in former times quite thick and made of soft material. A pair of snuffers was thus an indispensable accompaniment of every burning candle.

The silver Britannia Standard in the English finesse system has lasted from 1697 to 1720. This standard meant a 95,84% of silver content (on the contrary of 92,5 % by sterling). The figure of a woman commonly called Britannia and the lion’s head erased (torn off at the neck) became the new marks for London of this period. From there originates also the name of the period.
A similar type of snuffers with snuffer-tray from the first half of 18th century is in V&A Museum (M.832A-1926).

Simon Pantin was born around 1680 and died in 1728. He came from a Huguenot family of goldsmiths in Rouen. Pantin had a considerable clientele and output of much fine domestic silver. Many of his finest pieces are today in important museums and collections. Pantins became besides an important goldsmiths’ family in London (Grimwade3 1990: 613).
Joseph Bird had his first two marks entered in the register in 1697. He was called by some of his apprentices “Captain Bird” (Grimwade3 1990: 441-2).

Scratched weight on the backside of the tray 2=14=12 (14 Oz. 2 dwts. and 12 dwts. alloy)
Snuffers: length: 12 cm (4,7 in.); weight: 70 gr.
Snuffer-tray: length: 15, 5 cm (5,9 in.); bright: 13 cm (5,1 in.) incl. handle; weight: 210 gr.

Date:  1712/13
Period:  1600-1750, 18th century
Origin:  England, London
Medium: silver
Signature: Hallmarks: Figure of Britannia and lion’s head erased (torn off at the neck).
Date letter: “B” with half-moon on the left for 1712/3 (Jackson 1921: 84).
Tray: in a round shield a peacock with the initials “PA” for Simon Pantin I (Grimwade3 no 2124/2125).
Snuffers: the initials “Bi” with a cross on the top and a bird on the bottom for
Joseph Bird (Grimwade3 no 177).

Dimensions: 12 cm (4³/₄ inches)
Literature: Grimwade, Ar., 1990, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837. Their marks and lives from the original registers at Goldsmiths’ Hall and other sources, GB: Faber and Faber [Grimwade3]
Jackson, Ch., J., 1921, English Goldsmiths and their marks, London: MacMillan and Co. Limited

Categories: Silver