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An Important George II Silver Salver

London, 1743, maker’s mark of James Shruder

Acquired by an East Coast museum

Of exceptional size, shaped circular raised on three foliate scroll feet, the openwork border cast and chased with elaborate foliate scrolls, rocaille and grape-vine, the centre with a large engraved asymmetrical cartouche formed of scrolls, rocaille and foliage, with a female head at the top and a snake and grotesque male head at the bottom, enclosing a coat of arms

Struck on reverse with hallmarks (lion passant, leopard’s head and date letter h) and with maker’s mark

Diameter: 25 14 in (64 cm); Height: 2 12 in (6.5 cm); Weight: 221 oz 4 dwt (6,880 g)

Heraldry
The arms are those of Franks impaling those of Evans, borne by David Franks (1720–1794) of Philadelphia, who married Margaret Evans in 1743.

This salver is a new addition to the group of English silver in the advanced rococo style made for the Franks family of Philadelphia. There is only a handful of recorded groups of eighteenth-century London-made silver with a Mid-Atlantic provenance. Moreover, the Franks silver is the only known group made for an American Jewish patron.

David Franks, the son of Jacob Franks of New York, was a prominent Philadelphia merchant who was born in New York in 1720. He came to Philadelphia with his brother Moses in 1740 and started as a general trader. In December 1743 he married Margaret Evans, whose father was Sheriff of Philadelphia and Collector of Customs. This salver no doubt formed part of their wedding plate.

Franks made a fortune in land speculation and the fur trade, and owned ships which imported goods from England. His ship Myrtilla is said to have brought the Liberty Bell to Philadelphia from London, where it was cast. He was an army victualler and contractor and supplied the army at Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) during the French and Indian Wars. He was one of eighty-four Philadelphia residents to own a coach.

A Tory, Franks signed the non-Importation Agreement of 1765 (which called for the repeal of the Stamp Act). During the Revolutionary War, having been a supplier to the British army, he was regarded as an enemy of the new American state. In fact, his bills for supplies had not been paid by the British following their withdrawal from Philadelphia, but his letters requesting payment were thought to be treasonable correspondence and he was arrested. In 1780 he was exchanged with other prisoners, ending up in New York, whence he took ship to England (his wife Margaret had died some years before). With his assets in America impounded, Franks took up residence in Isleworth, Middlesex, just outside London, near to where his two brothers lived, and set about recovering his property. In 1790 he was able to return to Philadelphia, where he succumbed to yellow fever in 1793.

The other silver owned by David Franks and engraved with the same arms as this salver includes:

  • Salver or stand for a kettle, 1742/43, maker’s mark of Paul de Lamerie (Alan and Simone Hartman Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
  • Sugar or sweetmeat basket, 1742/43, maker’s mark of Paul de Lamerie (sold, Christie’s, London, November 22, 1995, lot 122)
  • Kettle on lampstand, 1744/45, maker’s mark of Paul de Lamerie (Irwin Untermyer Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
  • Bowl, 1744/45, maker’s mark of Paul de Lamerie (Irwin Untermyer Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
  • Cake basket, 1744/45, maker’s mark of Paul de Lamerie (Helen Flynn Conway Bequest, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

This salver, or “table”, one of the largest and heaviest George II examples recorded, affords an interesting comparison with the other items in the Franks group. Struck with the mark of James Shruder, a member of the “Lamerie Group”, the rococo decoration of its superb cast border is of a distinctive form that is characteristic of this maker, and illustrates his German origins. Unlike the vegetal naturalism of the de Lamerie pieces, the scrolls and rocaille on this salver are bold and very crisply modelled. Shruder’s trade card, which interestingly is signed J. Shruder Inv., is formed of a decorative cartouche with virtually identical drapery-capped scrolls and heavy rocaille. It is clear that Shruder himself modelled and probably chased the border of this salver, and indeed he is described as “Chasser &c” in 1733, and in 1763 as “Modeller and Papier-Mache Manufacturer”. Shruder entered his first mark at Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1737 (although he was evidently working in London at least four years before this). He was declared bankrupt in 1749, and was one of the witnesses to Paul de Lamerie’s will in 1751. It has been suggested that Shruder may be the so-called “Maynard Master” responsible for the extremely distinctive modelling and chasing found on some of de Lamerie’s output from the 1730s and 40s, but the auricular quality of that craftsman’s work is quite different from the work struck with Shruder’s own mark. This salver should be compared with three other pieces by Shruder, all of exceptional quality and with a similar very distinctive version of the rococo: the kettle on lampstand and matching coffee pot made for Leake Okeover in 1749/50 and the hot water urn with decoration after Lajoue of 1752/53. The muscular rococo scrolls and feathering on all these pieces including the present salver appear on Shruder’s trade card.

The finely engraved heraldic cartouche enclosing the Franks and Evans arms on this salver is also very similar to the cartouche on the trade card and can perhaps be attributed to J. Warburton, whose signature appears on the trade card as engraver in the lower right. The heavy scrolls, and the distinctive rocaille which appears from behind the scrolls, are repeated on the salver. The female head at the top of the cartouche, and the grotesque mask and snake at the bottom, are whimsical touches that can be traced to the chased decoration on the Okeover pieces and the Folgers urn. An interesting comparison can be made with the engraving on a de Lamerie salver, of the same size and same year, in the Gans Collection. Although both cartouches follow the same form and utilize the same motifs, the handling is quite different and suggests different hands at work.

 

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