The city was much admired for the quality of its output – some of it on a par with that produced in London and York – but today perhaps only 200 pieces of Norwich secular silver survive.
Norwich marks on a trefid spoons command a significant premium, as demonstrated by two 17th century rattail spoons offered at Jacobs & Hunt (22% buyer’s premium) in Liss, Hampshire, on January 28 with hopes of around £100 each.
The example in decent condition with slightly rubbed marks by Lawrence Jones, London, 1694, sold for £260. The William III spoon with crystal clear marks for James Daniel of Norwich, 1696, was a much rarer beast and extremely well preserved. It raced away to bring £3800.
Several other East Anglian trefid spoons have appeared for sale in recent years. A William and Mary example by Thomas Havers, Norwich, c.1697-1702, took £6700 as part of the Constable collection at Woolley & Wallis in 2017, while in 2018 the saleroom sold a spoon by prolific maker Elizabeth Hazelwood, Norwich, c.1684-88, for £5200.
Daniel’s mark is known on more than a dozen pieces. Interestingly, a note survives in the archives of the Goldsmiths Company indicating he was fined £28 12s 6d plus £21 for the cost of the goods in 1686 for selling substandard silver.
A rare London trefid spoon acquired during the 1684 frost fair sold for £5500 at the January 18 silver sale at Lawrences (25% buyer’s premium) of Crewkerne. The estimate was £1700-2000.
Eight frost fairs were held on the Thames between 1607 and 1814, taking advantage of the firm ice that formed on the river as it flowed slowly in the shallows near the old London Bridge.
This spoon with marks for the unidentified maker RS, London, 1683 is inscribed along the stem Boughte att frost faire kept upon y’ London River of Theames y’ 4th February. One of only a handful known, it was last sold as part of the Griffin collection of late 17th century spoons at Phillips in April 1997.
A similar spoon in better condition was sold by Lawrences for £11,500 in 2016.
Still icy 32 years later
Another spoon from a later frost fair in the early Georgian period formed part of the single-owner collection sold at Dreweatts (25% buyer’s premium) on March 8.
This otherwise simple Britannia standard Hanoverian pattern tablespoon by Matthew Madden was dated for 1715 and engraved to the bowl Bought on ye Frozen Thames Jany ye 25 1716. To the back of the stem are the initials SR.
A frost fair was held on the Thames for about two months during this severe winter. Remarkably on January 25 the thick ice on the Thames lifted by some 14ft during a flood tide but did not break.
Estimated at £1000-1500, this rare memento sold at £4500.