An early silver Dish Cross
A George II silver Dish Cross, London 1747, by William Grundy. Engraved with an original owner’s crest at the centre.
This heavy gauge dish cross, formerly in the stock of Malcolm Stearns, is the earliest example of this type so far noted.
Dish crosses [used for keeping dishes warm and preventing burn marks on wooden surfaces]:
The arms of which are four parallel and layered lengths of shaped thick guage sheet with fixed cast ends, which serve as feet below and dish rests above. Thus paired into two members, the narrower within the wider, the arms have a circular disc at the centre and rotate around a brass pin screwed vertically through them, with a short baluster strengthening tube between the upper and lower layers of the narrower pair of arms. Four simple capstan shaped rests are rivetted to the upper surface of each arm to provide additional support for dishes. This form does not normally have a burner.
A mechanised cross with three adjustable ratcheted arms emanating from a central burner. The rectangular arms, with cast scrolled terminals, are slotted through the central burner and, as one arm is adjusted inwards or outwards, the others move in unison. There is thus no rotational movement of the cross. Dishes are supported entirely upon the upper parts of the scrolled ends of the arms.
The four arms of the cross are rectangular in section and are fixed in pairs to central discs or, if there is a burner, rings around the neck of the burner. The arms rotate in the same manner as type (1). From the 1750’s, at the outer ends, the arms slot through apertures in cast scrolled terminals, which can be moved along the length of the arms to accommodate a variety of dish sizes. A variety of paterae, rosettes or balusters applied to the ends of the arms retain the sliding terminals. As with type (2), the only supports for dishes are the upper parts of the terminals.
The earliest silver dish crosses are Irish dating from the 1730’s. Only three are known, all from Dublin. They are of type (1) with cast ends formed as flat-backed balusters. One, now in the National Museum of Ireland, is marked with the Dublin date letter for 1730 but has no maker’s mark. Another is marked by Robert Calderwood circa 1735; and the third, now in a private collection in Texas, is marked by Thomas Walker, also circa 1735. A silvered brass dish cross of this ‘Dublin type’ is known but, whereas the silver examples have plain tapering arms, those of the brass example are shaped. From the 1740’s, dish rings become the characteristic form of dish support in Ireland and dish crosses disappear; although Irish newspapers record silvered brass or ‘french plate’ dish crosses. The Munster Journal of September 4th 1766 carries an advertisement by Robert Stevally that he has french plate dish crosses for sale. These were almost certainly imported from London – in April 1737 Thomas Crampton advertised in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal the importation of a vast variety of ‘French plate’ from London and in 1762 Henry Clements advertised French plate and japanned candlesticks from London.
As might be expected, the sophisticated crosses of type (2) were produced in London. The earliest so far recorded is marked by Paul Crespin and is in the Egremont collection at Petworth. This example has alternative triple or single wick burners. An almost identical cross of 1739, marked by James Shruder, has a locking mechanism so that the arms can be fixed in any given position. The type was produced as late as 1759 – an example by Edward Aldridge and John Stamper – and others have been noted by John Swift in 1754 and Thomas Heming of the same date.
Dish crosses of type (3) first appear in London in the 1740’s. An example of 1748 by Ayme Videau [like this example of 1747] has no burner but crosses made in 1749 by John Carman [ sold Sotheby’s New York 24/10/2000, lot 321] and Frederick Kandler [in the Royal Collection] have single wick lamps. An example by Coline Allan of Aberdeen, circa 1750, [now in the Aberdeen Museum] is very close in design to the cross by John Carman. The crosses by Carman and Allan have box-shaped sleeves incorporated into the scrolling terminals and it is within these that the arms slide. The example by Kandler and another by William Grundy, London 1757 [Sold Christie’s New York 27/10/1987, lot 286] have simple rectangular apertures in the terminals through which the arms move but they have scrolls springing from the upper and lower sections of the terminals to further grip the arms.
Good. The sectional construction [as shown in the images] of this cross is interesting. The ends are formed in cast sections, seamed, with ‘blow’ holes where the hot air formed in soldering has escaped.
Height – 7.60 cm.; Width – 29.60 cm. [or 23.50 cm. when in saltire cross form]; Weight – 585.50 gms.