A Set of 12 'Royal' Silver George I Dinner Plates, London 1717

Diameter: 10 in (25.4 cm)
Weight: 233 oz (7259 g)

Provenance: George Augustus Prince of Wales, later George II of Great Britain and thence by descent to Ernst August, Prince of Hanover; sale, Sotheby’s, Schloss Marienburg, 7th October 2005, lot 1152 The plain circular dishes are engraved on the rim with the Prince of Wales feathers, motto and the initials G P.

Engraved on the backs 20=2=No 106, 20=3 No=108, 20=5=No 110, 20=3=No=111, 20=3=No 112, 20=7=No 113, 20=3=No116, 20=4=No 118, 20=10 No 119, 20=5=No 120, 20=5=No 121, 20=8=No 122

The plates form part of the massive dinner service of plates and dishes supplied to the George, Prince of Wales, later George II, probably for his new home at Leicester House, Leicester Square. It was probably paid for out of the Prince’s private purse. Benjamin Pyne had only supplied silver to the Jewel House at the time of the coronation of George I in 1714 and Pierre Platel who supplied some of the rest of the service was not an official goldsmith. The likelihood that the service was a private purchase is endorsed by the fact that it does not appear on an inventory of royal plate taken in 1721. The service had been ordered whilst he was still Prince of Wales and then in 1738, ten years after his accession to the throne, George II ordered that it should be sent from London to Hanover. Again the service was listed separately to the rest of the royal plate, a further indication that it had remained apart from the rest of the royal plate. George II visited Hanover regularly, making the journey every other year to deal with problems that were specific to the principality. It also gave him an opportunity to hold court which would have required large quantities of plate.

The survival of the service is remarkable and is due to the fact that it remained, largely unused for much of the nineteenth century, at Marienburg and that at the time of Queen Victoria’s succession to the British throne it formed part of the holding of plate retained by Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland rather than forming part of the British Royal Collection.

Benjamin Pyne was born in Devon. Apprenticed to George Bowers in 1667 he obtained his freedom in 1676 and went on to have premises in St. Martin’s Le Grand. He went on to the Court of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1703, became a Warden in 1715 and Prime Warden in 1725. He held the position of Subordinate Goldsmith to the King for the coronation of George I. Arthur Grimwade describes him as being “in the front rank of London goldsmiths” who “with Anthony Nelme shared the main responsibility of upholding native standards against Huguenot competition (London Goldsmiths 1697-1837: their marks & lives, 1796, p. 635). He supplied plate to Queen Anne and to a number of the nobility and the most notable of his works to survive is a thirty-four piece toilet service of 1708 made for the Duke of Norfolk.