English enamels of this type, commonly known as 'Surrey' enamels, were originally thought to have been executed after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. There now seems to be evidence to suggest that, in fact, production began much earlier, at least as early as the 1640s. Anthony Hatch, who finished his apprenticeship in 1641, is recorded in the London Armourers' Company Court Minute Book (26 September, 1689, (f. 82v.)) as having received the thanks of the Company 'for the Brasse enamelled chimney peece by him given them which is now set vpp and placed in the Greate parlour or Courte Room.' It is entirely possible that Hatch was also responsible for the present andirons.
Whether or not they can be attributed to Hatch, the andirons are closely related to another, documented, pair which were published in the catalogue of the Untermyer Collection (op. cit., p. 42, fig. 201). Those andirons show the same overall form, although they include a pierced square element above the foot, which probably also existed in the present examples. The Untermyer andirons appear to have spent most of their lives at Weald Hall, Essex, until 1759. They were later in the collection of William Randolph Hearst.
We would like to thank Anthony North, of the Department of Metalwork at the Victoria and Albert Museum, for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.