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Gothic Revival Cup and Cover, 1867
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Gothic Revival Cup and Cover, 1867

Measurements: Height: 33.5cm (13.25in)



Gothic inspired cup and cover in silver, silver gilt and enamel, the chalice applied to the obverse with the Royal arms, surmounted by an engraved Tudor style crown, the reverse engraved with the cypher of Queen Victoria; the flared body of the cup with lattice-work S-form handles with beaded terminals, the waisted dome cover embossed with eight circular lobes and terminating with a stylised finial, the lower body of the cup embossed in relief with similar lobed decoration, on flaring stem with knopped decoration, raised on a reeded skirting circular base adorned with eight circular lobes. Makers mark of John Hardman & Co., Birmingham. Hallmarked Birmingham 1866-67.

John Hardman, Jr., (1812-67) was the son of a prosperous Birmingham button manufacturer and the descendant of a long line of Catholic recusants. He was also the exact contemporary, closest friend and collaborator of the creative genius Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin - the designer of the Gothic interiors and furnishings of the Palace of Westminster.

The metalware firm of Hardman & Co. first collaborated with A.W.N. Pugin in 1838 during work on St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, one of the first four Catholic churches constructed in England since the Reformation. Under John Hardman Jr’s direction the firm branched out into stain glass and continued to produce the majority of Pugin’s designs for church plate and domestic silver items in the Gothic taste after the architect’s early death in 1852.

Accordingly the present cup and cover belongs to the story of the revival of Catholic ritual in England, and the wider mid 19th century enthusiasm for romantic medievalism as envisaged by John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury. To liberally minded Englishmen the Catholic revival was simply the logical extension of toleration and full religious liberties to all compatriots. However to the minds of others the re-establishment of a native Catholic hierarchy in England for the first time since the reign of Mary Tudor (1555-1558) was a disastrous concession to the Church of Rome. Indeed the perceived militancy of the first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster only served to exacerbate matters, causing Queen Victoria to purportedly exclaim "Am I Queen of England, or am I not?"