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Last month Bill Kime, head of decorative arts at Toronto auctioneers Waddingtons contacted the Antiques Trade Gazette to announce the imminent sale of an English provincial silver tea kettle, quite possibly made in Guildford c.1730-40.

According to an article written by David Barker in Ian Pickford's 1989 revision of Sir Charles Jackson's Silver & Gold Marks, by the middle of the 18th century there were at least five working silversmiths in the Surrey town. Pre-eminent were the Meddin family who were called upon to restore the civic plate and maces and John Russell, who was four times mayor of the town. However, among the names of nine Guildford smiths listed in Pickford's work is that of Richard Croker, recorded as a silversmith and cutler in the town from 1729 to 1775.

Only two tablespoons in the collection of the Rev. Harry G. Topham are thought to carry his mark - the initials RC with a bird. In 1921 these assays were recorded by Jackson alongside other London makers whose names had not been not traced. However, Barker opined that the bird is a crow and a play on the Guildford silversmith's name.

Carrying the same enigmatic marks, pictured below right, this George II tea kettle could thus represent a significant find for the 'picker' who bought it recently at a Canadian house sale. Standing 10in (25cm) high and weighing a heavy 57oz, it is also struck with French import marks, perhaps indicating its route to Canada.

On December 9 it carries an estimate of Can$3500-5000.