The exact use of the plummit is the matter of some conjecture although they were certainly originally a feature of 18th century dressing-table services, indeed in 1741 a Mrs. Fuller ordered a sett of dressing plate from George Wickes which included a plummit. Other examples are known such as one from The Dorset Service, an unmarked silver-gilt toilet service sold from the Patino Collection; Christie's New York, 28 October 1986, lot 12 and the Duke of Norfolk service by Benjamin Pyne, illustrated in M.Clayton, The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America, London, p.432, pl.71.
While it was originally believed that they were bell pulls it has since been suggested that they were button hooks for gloves or used for tightening stays. It is also possible that they were intended as weights which would have hung from the voluminous draperies which would surround the mirror on the 17th and 18th century dressing- table.
The Fleming dressing-table service, as sold in 1908, originally consisted of 21 pieces weighing some 458 oz. offered as part of a Catalogue of Objects of Art of the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries, The Property of the Marchioness Conyngham, Deceased. A ewer and basin from the service, similarly decorated with foliate scrolls and flowers, was sold Christie's, New York, 19 October 2004, lot 1044.
For Jane Fleming, Countess of Harrington see also Lot 365.