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    Sale 7561

    Simon Sainsbury The Creation of an English Arcadia

    18 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 30


    CIRCA 1700

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 1700
    Of oval form, painted with the arms of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, with unicorn supporters flanked by green and blue scrolling foliage with the motto OPIFERQVE:PER:ORBEM:DICOR on a label below, surrounded by similar foliage, with the arms of the City of London below, pierced for hanging, some slight rim chipping and flaking to glaze of rim, some slight scratching and crazing to glaze
    12¾ in. (32.3 cm.) high

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    The arms on the present pill-tile are those of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, a livery company founded in 1617. The shield depicts Apollo, associated with healing, holding a bow and arrow above a dragon, as a symbol of disease, the crest of a rhinoceros also has medicinal connotations, the powdered horn was used in exotic preparations. The motto also refers to Apollo and translates as 'I am the bringer of help throughout the world'. The presence of the coat-of-arms of London suggests that it was made for a Freeman of the City of London.

    Pill-slabs or pill-tiles were traditionally thought to have been used to roll out pill ingredients, but the elaborate and decorative nature of these plaques suggests that they were more commonly used for display purposes. The earliest dated armorial pill-tile is from 1664 and bears the arms of Charles II, the earliest dated example with the Society of Apothecaries' Arms is in the collection of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and is dated 1670, illustrated in Louis L. Lipski and Michael Archer, Dated English Delftware, London, 1984, p. 391, cat. no. 1678. Only eight dated examples are known, six of 17th century date, one from 1703, and the latest from 1785.

    A pill-tile with this expansive palette appears to be incredibly rare; for two similar pill-tiles in the literature, both of which are blue and white, see the example in the Burnap Collection illustrated by Ross E. Taggart, The Frank P. and Harriet C. Burnap Collection of English pottery, in the William Rockwill Nelson Gallery (Kansas City, Missouri, 1967), p. 46, pl. 90; see also the dated example from Swithland Hall, sold in these Rooms, 29th January 1979, lot 11.

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    Probably John Woodcock Graves of Caldbeck, Cumberland 1790-1886, thence by descent, according to paper label to the reverse.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's London, 21 November 2000, lot 6.
    Acquired from Alistair Sampson, 24 November 2000.