Apostle spoon dated 1478 or 1538 – £6500 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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Much was dispersed at sales in 1926 and 1935 but a handful of pieces were saved by the family including a number of English Apostle spoons, each carrying the addition of engraved gothic letter B and a coronet – probably added by the 7th Earl who had collector’s marks engraved to much of his holdings.

They were included in Lyon & Turnbull’s (25% buyer’s premium) sale of 43 lots from the family of the Earls of Breadalbane & Holland on May 18.

A spoon with a St Simon terminal was thought to document an important moment in the history of British silver: it potentially dated from 1478, the first year that a ‘date letter’ was used in the hallmarking system.

However, an addendum to the catalogue suggested this ‘Edward IV’ mark could equally be read as the mark for 1538 – making this a marginally less exciting Henry VIII spoon. The price of £6500 (it was modestly guided at £2500-4000) does suggest the consensus was this was from the Tudor rather than War of the Roses era.


George I seal box – £9500 at Lyon & Turnbull.

One piece in the family collection the 7th Earl doubtless admired was a George I seal box by Francis Garthorne (London 1726) issued to John Campbell, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane & Holland (1692-1782), who had been ambassador to both the Danish and Russian courts. The box still retains the Royal Charter that granted him plenipotentiary powers and a wax impression of the great seal of George I.

Estimated at £3000-5000, it took £9500.