• The Collection of Benjamin F.  auction at Christies

    Sale 2388

    The Collection of Benjamin F. Edwards III

    26 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 132

    A SET OF FOUR GEORGE II SILVER FLUTED DISHES

    MARK OF EDWARD WAKELIN, LONDON, 1748

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A SET OF FOUR GEORGE II SILVER FLUTED DISHES
    MARK OF EDWARD WAKELIN, LONDON, 1748
    Each oval with stylized flutes, the center engraved with two crests and a motto beneath an Earl's coronet, each marked on reverse, also marked No. 1 22=3; No. 2 21=18; No. 3 22=1; No. 4 21=0
    11 1/8 in. (28.2 cm.) long; 79 oz. (2,457 gr.) (4)


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    The crests are those of Byng, for John, 1st Earl of Strafford G.C.B. (1772-1860).

    This lot was supplied to the ill-fated Admiral John Byng (1704-1757). In 1756, Admiral Byng sailed to relieve the British garrison on Minorca, then under siege by the French. On May 20, Admiral Byng engaged the French squadron. The results were inconclusive, neither side losing a ship, but Byng withdrew to Gibraltar without pursuing the French or reinforcing the British garrison, which fell a month later.

    When Byng returned to England in July, public opinion was outraged by the loss of Minorca. Byng was arrested and brought before a court-martial. He received unexpected support from an old friend, the celebrated French writer Voltaire, who convinced the commander of the French troops on Minorca to write an open letter praising Byng's performance. Nevertheless, Byng was found guilty and executed on March 14, 1757 by a firing squad on the deck of the H.M.S. Monarch at Portsmouth. Voltaire immortalized this episode in his novel Candide, famously observing that it is good to kill an admiral from time to time "pour encourager les autres."

    George Wickes's Gentleman's Ledger entry for John Byng's account on 27 May 1748, describes these dishes: 'To ... 4 Oval Sallett [salad] dishes 163 [oz] 17 [dwt] 9 [gr] [£73 14[s]8[d]'.

    Caption: The execution of Admiral John Byng, 14th March 1757, attributed to John Cleveley, the Elder (c. 1712-1777), Christie's Images

    Provenance

    Admiral John Byng (1704-1757), then by descent to
    John, 1st Earl of Strafford G.C.B. (1772-1860), then by descent, sold Christie's, London, 9 June 2005, lot 95
    With Alastair Dickenson, London