As the British liked to serve their tea much hotter than it was consumed in the orient, porcelain was a far more suitable material than a heat-conducting metal. However, the set of four George III teacups and saucers offered by Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) on June 21 were made for Indian royalty.
Marked for Robert, David and Samuel Hennell (London, 1801), they carry the cypher of the Raja of Coorg and in English the words Veeraa Junder Wurrtar, Raja of Coorg.
Dodda Vira Rajendra (or Vira Rajendra Wodeyar) was the ruler of the Coorg Kingdom from 1780- 1809 and a favourite with both his subjects and the East India Company after he offered his assistance in the final defeat of Tipu Sultan at Seringapatam in 1799.
The four cups and saucers – perhaps given as a gift in the wake of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War – had been bought from London silver dealership JH Bourdon-Smith in 1966 but had a much more recent provenance to the sale held by West Sussex firm Toovey’s in May. There they had been hammered for £3300 and were very quickly flipped for this sale in west London. Reoffered at Chiswick with more extensive cataloguing and an estimate of £6000-8000, they sold at £6000.
Duleep Singh connection
A pair of George III sterling silver dinner plates with the marks of Robert Garrard (London 1807) were remarkable for the later addition of an engraved coat of arms for Duleep Singh (1838-93).
The fifth and the last Sikh maharaja of the Punjab, he was sent into exile by the British from 1854, living the gilded cage life of a wealthy English gentleman, first in London, then at Mulgrave Castle near Whitby and later from Elveden Hall in Suffolk. A favourite of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, the maharaja and his family used a coat of arms which was drawn up by Prince Albert himself.
Centred by a lion passant supporting a shield charged with a Latin cross, the motto Prodesse quam conspicii means to do good rather than be conspicuous.
Little silver bearing the maharaja’s crest is recorded. It is thought these plates, estimated at £1500-2500, were sold as part of the sale of Elveden after his death. They took £4000.
A set of six Rococo pattern dessert spoons made by George Adams in 1854 and 1874 also bore the crest. They were guided at £600-800 and made £1500 via thesaleroom.com.
Objects with a close personal connection to Duleep carry a particular resonance in the Sikh community. A white metal hawking bell inscribed HH Prince Duleep Singh, Mulgrave Castle, Whitby, Yorkshire, £2 reward sold for £5500 at Kingham & Orme in 2020.