George III silver wine jug

George III silver wine jug by Thomas Heming sold for £15,000 at Tennants.

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Both 11in (28cm), 36oz pieces, with marks for Thomas Heming, London, 1765, have a common previous owner in Major General Henry Aylmer (1813-1904), although it appears they became separated more than a century ago when inherited by his two sons.

While one stayed in the UK to be sold by Tennants in May 2021 for £20,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium), the other had made its way to Canada.

Strangely familiar... 

As detailed by an engraved inscription to the base, it was given by Henry Adolphus Paget Aylmer (1876-1959) to John Sigerist Blanshard Pemberton and his wife Margaret Alexandra, née Cleghorn, on their wedding day in Westmount, Montreal, on February 11, 1936.

Jug base with hallmarks

A detail of the base of the jug sold at Tennants showing the hallmarks and a presentation inscription added in 1936.

Tennants’ specialist Jeffrey Lassaline had been delighted to receive an email last year from their descendants in Canada who had recently received news of the earlier sale. They chose to consign their inheritance to the Yorkshire sale of Fine Jewellery, Watches and Silver on March 18 where, estimated at £7000- 10,000, it sold to a UK private buyer at £15,000 (plus 22% buyer’s premium). As it had been imported under the Temporary Admission scheme, a further VAT of 5% was due on the hammer price and 20% on the buyer’s premium.

The exact purpose of Georgian silver pear-shaped jugs is sometimes unclear although most are called ale jugs. However, we can say with some confidence that these jugs were made for wine rather than beer as the cast and chased decoration includes swags of fruiting vines.

Thomas Heming’s trade card from the 1760s-70s, part of a cache of Georgian cards donated by Ambrose Heal to the British Museum, depicts a jug (of a different form) with the same distinctive ornament.

Only a small number of fully identifiable Georgian wine jugs are known to survive, with pairs a great rarity.