Why the need for a silver repair to this relatively simple, plain 18th century vessel?
Bruce of Cowden family history suggests that – during a visit by Bonnie Prince Charlie himself in advance of the ‘45 rebellion – the glass was broken after a toast was given to ‘The King Over the Water’. It was traditional to break a glass after drinking a toast to save a lesser tribute being drunk from it.
The man tasked with preserving such an emotive object was Patrick Murray, a goldsmith in Stirling. Using red sealing wax to secure it to the teardrop stem, he fashioned a new foot in silver with six lobes engraved with the words God Blis King James The Eight.
Relatively little is known about Murray as a craftsman – only a handful of pieces with his mark are recorded – but he was a known Jacobite. After serving in Lord George Murray’s Brigade, he was taken prisoner in November 1745 and, a year later in Carlisle, executed for his part in the rebellion.
The Bruce of Cowden glass descended in the family until 1924 when it was first sold at Sotheby’s. Last sold (again at Sotheby’s) as part of the Anthony Waugh collection in April 1980, it was offered in Edinburgh as part of a private collection of Jacobite glass.
Perhaps the closest comparison to this piece is the fabled (and occasionally faked) diamond-point engraved Amen Glasses which rank among the most valuable of all 18th century drinking glasses.
Estimated at £8000-12,000, the Bruce of Cowden glass took £20,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) from a private collector.
Lyon & Turnbull will be launching its new London office with an exhibition of Scottish Colourist works from September 4-15.
For a full report on the office at 22 Connaught Street, see Around the auction houses in next week’s ATG.