Pre-Restoration silver rarely seen on the market - 9 March 2011

On Wednesday 9th March, Dreweatts is offering an extremely rare silver basket in the Fine Silver, Jewellery & Watches sale at Donnington Priory near Newbury.

The Charles I silver circular basket by Richard Backwell I (lot 63) was made in London between 1624-1640 (maker’s mark only) and engraved under ‘24oz 10d’. It has twin loop handles issuing from leafage, the sides are pierced and engraved with charming cherub heads and scrolling foliage, the base has a central fruit roundel within pierced and engraved scrolls, on a pierced and engraved arcaded flared foot, and the engraved armorial of Waldyve Willington (1677-1773) which was added later.

Richard Backwell I was renowned as a silversmith for the church which was a major source of patronage to the silver trade at the time, and the silver basket for bread, fruit or even sewing coming up at Dreweatts, is one of his secular pieces. During Charles I’s reign there was a shortage of coinage and coins were minted all over the country on an ad hoc basis with people contributing their silver to be melted down for the Royalist cause.

Until the discovery of this basket only three pre-Restoration examples were known; only one comparable piece but of lesser quality and datable to 1597 has come to auction in the last 60 years, and that was at Christie’s in 1950 when it sold for £1,250 - a substantial sum in those days.

As David Rees, the specialist in charge said, ‘Dreweatts is delighted to be offering this basket, as pre-Restoration silver is rarely seen on the market. The last similar piece to appear was of very average quality, which suggests that these items were made in considerable numbers. However because so much from this period has disappeared, and the craftsmanship of the item we are selling in March is far superior, I am sure it will arouse a lot of interest especially amongst international connoisseurs and collectors.’

The silver basket in Dreweatts’ sale on 9th March is estimated at £15,000-25,000. The vendor knew he had something unusual in his possession but had no idea of its origin nor its value, as it only had a maker's mark but no town, date or standard mark.

To view the sale catalogue online, please click here.

For further press information please contact Vanessa Clewes Salmon:

For further information on the sale, please call Dreweatts’ Donnington Priory Salerooms on 01635 553553 or email

Dreweatts - 10 February 2011