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    Sale 7731

    Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes

    2 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 318

    AN IMPORTANT AUSTRALIAN THREE-PIECE SILVER TEA-SERVICE

    MARK OF ALEXANDER DICK, SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES, CIRCA 1830

    Price Realised  

    AN IMPORTANT AUSTRALIAN THREE-PIECE SILVER TEA-SERVICE
    MARK OF ALEXANDER DICK, SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES, CIRCA 1830
    Each piece part-fluted oblong and on four bun feet, with gadrooned rims, the cream jug and sugar bowl with leaf-capped handles, the teapot with ivory insulated shell-capped handle, with fluted finial, the teapot engraved with a crest, the teapot marked underneath 'DICK', castle twice, anchor and letter D, the sugar bowl and cream jug each marked near rim with maker's mark 'A.D', anchor, letter D, and 'N.S.W'
    the teapot 10¾ in. (27.5 cm.) long
    gross weight 48 oz. (1,487 gr.)
    The crest is that of Prendergast. (3)


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    Alexander Dick (c.1791-1843) was born in Scotland into a family with presumed connections to the Scottish silver trade in the form of the firms Dick & Robertson or Dick & McPherson. Dick emigrated to Australia, arriving as a free settler in Sydney in October 1824 and by April 1826 was advertising a business at 104 Pitt Street.

    By 1828 he is recorded in a census as employing two silversmiths, two jewellers and a servant girl, and soon at least six other craftsmen as well as a new premises at 6 Williams Place, George Street. It was at George Street where Dick was accused and convicted of receiving twelve silver spoons which had been stolen from the colonial secretary Alexander McLeay, resulting in a prison sentence of seven years, though he was pardoned in February 1833.

    Dick, who was described in his pardon as 'Height 5 ft 7 ins [170 cm]-Complexion fair ruddy and a little pock pitted-Hair sandy brown-Eyes grey-Remarks less a front tooth in Upper Jaw, Mole right side of Chin, Nose broad and broken' (J. Wade, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition), returned to Sydney and resumed business, which had been carried on in his absence by his wife. The business continued to grow with the addition of further craftsmen and moves to ever larger premises.

    Much of his existing work is in the form of flatware but he was also responsible for domestic holloware, such as the present tea-service and another, nearly identical example, made for George Allen (1800-1877), New South Wales' first Australian-trained colonial solicitor and now in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia (Accession no. NGA 79.2305.1-3).

    The crest of an antelope's head couped is listed for the families of Dorrell, Dumming, Green, Grumstead, Prendergast, Randall, Randolph and Scholten. However a search for these names in A General Muster of New South Wales, 1822, printed by the Society of Australian Genealogists in 1988 only produces the name Pendergast (presumably a mistake for Prendergast) amongst those listed as not being convicts or freed convicts. There is an entry in Burke's Colonial Gentry for Robert Henry Prendergast who was born in 1837 at Ardfinan, co. Tipperary.

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    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    The early history of the service, before it entered the family of the current owner circa 1870, is sadly not known, though one interesting possibility is that the service was among the 637 lots of mainly jewellery, watches and clocks which were sold at auction when Dick's wife wound up the business in 1846. It could possibly have been acquired at that time by a member of the Prendergast family, whose crest is engraved on the teapot, and subsequently acquired by the Saunders family, whose name is engraved under the teapot, in the 1860s or 1870s.
    By family tradition acquired by John M. Saunders, who is recorded in the Post Office Directory of 1872 as 'Bank Manager, Bank of New South Wales, High Street, Maitland,' and by descent to his daughter
    Cecily Mary Anne Saunders (b.1847) who married Dr. John Pierce who was killed in a pony and trap accident, and by descent to their daughter
    Ethel Frances Margaret (1874-1948), great grandmother of the present owner.