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A George II silver Salver by John Swift.

A fine George II silver Salver, London 1745, by John Swift, supported on three scroll feet, the border of asymmetrical shells and scrolls and the outer field with a band of scrolls, flowers and panels of embricated scales. In the centre of the salver is a coat-of-arms in the rococo manner for the family of Hooper of Old Sarum. The underside of the salver has the contemporary initials ‘G.H’, presumably for ‘George Hooper’.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has a salver by Swift of 1742 with a near identical border [accession 38.21.6].

John Swift. Circa 1703 -1766.

John Swift’s work is invariably of fine, occasionally exceptional, quality. He was made free of the Goldsmiths’ Company in London in June 1725 having been apprenticed first to Thomas Langford in March 1717/18, before being ‘turned over’ to William Paradise in 1719 and finally to Thomas Serle. His father, Anthony Swift, a merchant taylor living in the parish of St. Olave’s, Southwark had died in 1716.

Swift married Margaret Gray of St. Olave Silver Street in November 1725 [the marriage took place in St. Bennett Paul’s Wharf]. He entered his first mark with the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1728, giving his address as ‘Staining Lane’. He remained in business for thirty-eight years, dying in January 1766 [His burial recorded in the registers of St. Olave Silver Street on January 28th].

He was master to at least eleven apprentices: including Samuel Wright Welles [1730]; Peter Maingy [1732]; William Shaw [1736]; Edward Davies [1745]; Christopher Makemead [1748]; George Brindley [1749]; Charles Smith [1752]; John de Gruchy [ 1758]; Richard Colmer [1762]; Peter Carter [1764]. He had moved from Staining Lane to nearby Noble Street by  1739 when he registered his second mark and remained there until his death. His will, proved on the 31st of January [National Archives, PROB 11/915/388], refers to two children, John, and Anthony, and to his wife, Margaret. He left properties in Howford Court, Fenchurch street and all his working tools to John, who had been apprenticed to him in Jun 1750.

On the death of Gabriel Sleath in 1756, Swift had been appointed Deputy Warden [in charge of supervising the assay] at the Goldsmiths’ Company: a post he retained until 1766. He became a liveryman of the Company in 1758.

John Swift, junior, continued the silversmithing business for a few years [having entered his own mark in the now lost ‘largeworkers’ register at the Goldsmiths’ Company, see Grimwade 3686] and, indeed, took on an apprentice, Thomas Chandler, in 1768. In 1772 he announced his retirement from the business:

To be Sold by Auction, By Mess. RANDALL and BLAXLAND, On the premises, on Thursday, the 17th instant, The working tools, curious modern moulds and patterns, with sundry utensils of Mr. John Swift, working goldsmith, leaving off trade, the corner of Pitchers-court, Noble-street, near Coachmakers hall.

The whole to be viewed Tomorrow and Thursday, till the sale; when catalogues may be had on the premises; at Messrs. Randall and Blaxland’s warehouse, over the Royal Exchange; and at the Excise-coffee-house, Old Broad-street.

N.B. Gold watches, three rich embossed vases, and sundry other effects, as will appear by catalogue.

[Tuesday,  Sept. 15, 1772 the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser].


SKU: O5426 Category:



Very good. The underside has some surface flaws which were created when the salver was made. Of good colour.


Height – 4.50 cm.; Diameter – 32.40 cm.; Weight – 1195.60 gms.

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