As you may recall (had you previously read the two nail-bitingly thrilling episodes) I was locked in a battle royale between myself and another bidder in an all out battle for a silver chalice of uncertain date.
As I had informed my daughter, much to her horror, that I was prepared to expend up to, (and including) the horrifying sum of three hundred dollars on this item (without actually knowing if it was truly solid silver and when it was made) I remained good to my word as the Auctioneer rushed towards that exorbitant sum, despite the initial estimate of $100.
I had just outbid the only other chappy remotely interested in the cup, and my bid of $240 was apparently cause for hesitation.
“Going once at $240” Drawled the auctioneer
“Going twice”…my heart began to beat very fast
I heard a shuffling at the back of the room and then came the fateful words…
“Sold to the gentleman with the large beard at the front!”
Why the auctioneer felt compelled to mention my beard I could not say, but I cared not, for I was the owner of the silver chalice and no-one could take it away from me (unless I was mugged as I left the auction house by an antique appreciating felon)
By now the excitement was becoming too much. My daughter had finished her piece of lemon/garlic cake and I was impatient to find out if I had indeed bought a treasure or invested my children’s patrimony in a cheap theatre prop.
In short, we scrambled over the punters, paid up, collected the cup and dashed home.
And so, dear readers, what was the upshot of this foray into the world of antiquities?
I sit, with the chalice before me, my judgement vindicated and my hunch correct (well almost)
What did my filthy lucre purchase?
One hand beaten and engraved English silver chalice with full hallmarks, made in London.
My one error…I thought it to be Early 17th Century English. I was wrong.
Thankfully I possess an old copy of a hallmark identification book which, unlike most modern books that don’t bother listing marks prior to 1700, goes back to the 1400’s. This little book, backed up by subsequent research, shows that the cup was not made in 1620…it was made in 1582!
You can imagine how chuffed I am to have it in my hot little hands. This was made when Queen Elizabeth the First was on the throne. Shakespeare was penning his plays and Ivan the Terrible was doing nasty things in Russia.
Elizabeth the First ordered that all Church plate be remade after her Catholic sister Mary died and the Pope said rather rude things about Elizabeth being illegitimate. So gone was the ornate Catholic designs and the chalices were made following a simple pattern with limited ornament. Odds on that the Chalice is actually made of melted down medieval silver.
You can buy Elizabethan silver chalices but they are very rare. This one has survived almost 500 years and finally ended up in the furthest end of the globe from where it was made. What tales it must be able to tell. There is something magical in holding an item of this age. It is truly history in the making.
So…is this one of those moments where you see on “Antiques Roadshow” the expert astonishing the owner with a valuation beyond their wildest expectations? I would have to say….”YES!”
All I can say is that $240 was definitely not too much to fork out and that I am thinking of contacting Christies where a similar chalice of around the same date sold last year for the incredible sum of $….. (quite a lot more than a few hundred bucks)
Anyway, I did not buy it to get rich, I bought it to have the pleasure of owning and handling an item that you would usually only see behind glass in a museum.
Thank goodness for small town Perth and the obviously lack of interest in owning 16th Century Chalices.