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Date Made/Found: 1817
Material and Medium: Sterling silver and Ivory
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: L1913.11
This Sterling silver argyle was made by Rebecca Emes and Edward Barnard in 1817. It is simply decorated using the repoussé technique and has ivory pieces on the handle. Rebecca Emes is presumed to be the widow of John Emes (partner to Henry Chawner). She registered her first hallmark at London Goldsmiths with Edward Barnard in 1808. Women silversmiths are recorded in the records of Goldsmiths Hall throughout its history and played varying roles. Like Rebecca, many women successfully ran their husband’s businesses in widowhood. Women were also present across a broad spectrum of roles both as businesswomen and as labourers throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Argyles were supposedly introduced by and named after John Campbell the 5th Duke of Argyll (1723-1806) who lived in Inveraney Castle in the Scotland. The castle would have been cold in the winters and the Duke wanted to ensure his gravy was still hot when it reached the table from the kitchens downstairs. Argyles have a compartment inside into which hot water is poured to keep the contents warm. The addition of a lid also helps to retain heat. The spout is low down which enables the gravy to come from near the bottom of the pot rather than the top where the fat would have settled. Not many Argyles survive today as they were often modified for reuse as tea or coffee pots.
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