AN IMPORTANT SET OF FOUR REGENCY SILVER SALT CELLARS FROM THE DUCHESS OF ST. ALBANS SERVICE
AN IMPORTANT SET OF FOUR REGENCY SILVER SALT CELLARS FROM THE DUCHESS OF ST. ALBANS SERVICE

MARK OF PAUL STORR, LONDON, 1813

Details
AN IMPORTANT SET OF FOUR REGENCY SILVER SALT CELLARS FROM THE DUCHESS OF ST. ALBANS SERVICE
Mark of Paul Storr, London, 1813
Each oval, set on wave capped oval base with two tritons supporting a large shell, the detachable liners with gilt interiors, each base and liner engraved with a monogram HStA beneath a coronet, each marked on foot, shell, and liner, also stamped RUNDELL BRIDGE ET RUNDELL
6in. (15.2cm.) long; 132 oz. (4120gr.) (4)
Provenance
Peter Guille
William Randolph Hearst, sold Parke Bernet, January 5-7, 1939, lot 252 Sotheby's, New York, June 21, 1984, lot 179
Literature
The Glory of the Goldsmith: Magnificent Gold and Silver from the Al-Tajir Collection, 1989, no. 138, p. 179
Exhibited
"The Glory of the Goldsmith: Magnificent Gold and Silver from the Al-Tajir Collection," Christie's, London, 1989, no. 138
Post lot text
[SUPP PORTRAIT - EX LOT 9888/230, PL 44)
Harriot Mellon, Duchess of St. Albans (c.1775-1837),
courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Lot Essay

The monogram is that Harriot Mellon, Duchess of St. Albans (circa 1775-1837), previously the wife of Thomas Coutts, the banker. "A remarkably handsome brunette with a very tall, fine figure, raven locks, ivory teeth, a cheek like a peach and coral lips," actress Harriot Mellon caught the attention of the wealthy and elderly banker Thomas Coutts. Following the death of Coutts's first wife in 1815, they were free to marry; she was 35 and he was 80. Upon his death seven years later, Thomas Coutts bequeathed his entire estate, consisting of over £600,000 and his half-share in Coutts's Bank to Harriot. For her second husband, Harriot chose the 9th Duke of St. Albans. Although penniless and twenty-four years her junior, the Duke offered Harriot an elevation to the peerage, and this second marriage completed Harriot's steady upward climb from actress to Duchess.

During an age of extravagant parties and excessive food and drink, Harriot entertained on a regal scale and she amassed one of the most significant silver services of the Regency period. She regularly hosted 500, 600 and 700 guests at her London residence at Stratton Street, Holly Lodge, her villa in Highgate, and St. Albans's House in Brighton. While The Morning Post credited the silver collection to Thomas Coutts, declaring that "the service of plate [left to Harriot] is said to be the most valuable in any of the country", it is clear that it was Harriot, rather than her husband, who was the driving force behind this collection. She acquired silver during both of her marriages and her widowhood, and numerous pieces, such as these salt cellars, predate her first marriage.

These four salt cellars formed part of the "best service", which featured a number of pieces of marine inspiration. Harriot's silver collection remained intact well after her death in 1837. Her estate was settled upon Thomas Coutts's granddaughter, Angela Burdett, a noted Victorian philanthropist. Only after her death was the silver sold, in successive sales from 1914 to 1922.

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