Two large George III silver Serving Dishes from Lord King’s Dinner Service, with a ‘Beef Machine’.
A pair of shaped oval George III silver Meat Dishes with gadroon borders, London 1773, by Thomas Heming. In addition a a pair of silver beef machine brackets by Thomas Heming, 1770.
The dishes are engraved with a crest below a baron’s coronet for Peter King [1736-1793], 6th Baron King. Peter King married Charlotte, daughter of Edward Tredcroft of Horsham in 1774.
These dishes formed part of an extensive dinner service purchased, presumably after his marriage, by Lord King from Heming in 1773.
18th century archives contain a number of references to silver ‘Beef Machines.’ It seems certain that the term refers to upright brackets designed to sit in, or clamp onto, meat dishes, with forked finials and sometimes additional slots for skewers. One, apparently complete, example is in the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Museum and comprises a meat dish and screw-on brackets by Aldridge and Green, London 1784, together with an unmarked 20 inch skewer.
[Image Courtesy of John Hyman, Colonial Williamsburg].
Clayton, in his ‘Dictionary of English and American Silver‘, notes three pairs of such brackets, of varying heights: two of which pairs are marked by Thomas Heming. One such pair appeared for sale in Christie’s London [18th May 1988, lot 345] and was marked by Heming for 1773, the brackets being 31 cm. high, with two additional slots, and weighing 15 ozs.
The ‘Wakelin Ledgers’ for 1770 provide the following references to these brackets and their skewers:
24th May 1770, William Aislabie ordered a ‘Beef Machine’ weighing 17ozs. 10dwts. and costing £7 13s. 7d.
3rd February 1770, the Earl of Macclesfield ordered a ‘Beef Machine skewer with shell head’, weighing 4 ozs. 15dwts. and costing £1 17s 9d. At the same time he ordered a ‘Beef Machine’ weighing 11 ozs. 2dwts. and costing £5 17s.
29th June 1770, Richard Symons ordered a ‘Beef Machine’ weighing 12ozs. 5dwts. and costing £6 3s. 5d.
31st March 1770, the Earl of Westmoreland ordered a ‘Beef Machine’ weighing 11 ozs. 7dwts. and costing £5 18s 2d.
Michael Clayton noted also:
18th April 1772, Sir Robert Burdett ordered a ‘Beef Machine and a Beef Skewer’ from Wakelin
11th April 1772, Asheton Curzon ordered a ‘Beef Machine and Skewer’.
1774, Charles Bouchier ordered a ‘chain and pin to a Beef Machine.’
These dishes and the ‘Beef Machine’ brackets are offered with a George III shell ended skewer which is just long enough to span across the brackets on the dish. A chain and pin would be required to secure the skewer in position.
The dishes are in good condition with a surface consonant with their use as serving dishes. The surface has not been spoilt by attempts to over-polish them.
The upright brackets are in good condition but lack the original retaining pin and chain at one end.
The skewer is in generally good condition.
The dishes measure 48 cm. long and are 34.50 cm. wide. They weigh together 3776.60 gms.
The brackets measure 21.50 cm. high and are 6.70 cm. wide. The pair weigh 353.10 gms. [just over 11 ozs].
The skewer which is included has not been measured.