An extremely rare set of ten Elizabeth I painted, parcel-gilt and silvered beech trenchers, or 'roundelays' in an original painted and parcel-gilt box, circa 1580 - 1603  (12)

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Lot 4
An extremely rare set of ten Elizabeth I painted, parcel-gilt and silvered beech trenchers, or 'roundelays' in an original painted and parcel-gilt box, circa 1580 - 1603

Sold for £ 10,000 (US$ 13,334) inc. premium
An extremely rare set of ten Elizabeth I painted, parcel-gilt and silvered beech trenchers, or 'roundelays' in an original painted and parcel-gilt box, circa 1580 - 1603
The turned circular box made of beech, the cover japanned with the Royal Arms as used until 1603, within a waisted shield and a border of gilt chevrons, enclosing ten beech trenchers, each painted to the centre with a quatrain in black letter with red capitals, and with a border of different flowers, fruits and foliage, the box lid and base, and nine of the trenchers with an inscribed '8' to their rear or underside, the trenchers 13cm diameter; the box 17cm diameter x 4cm high, (12)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Lady Shaw of Bushy Park, Ireland.

    A very similar set, with the same Royal Coat of Arms painted to the cover of the box, was once in the collections of the Museum of London.

    Originally probably a set of twelve, nine of the ten remaining trenchers are inscribed with an '8', suggesting - if this mark is original - that the maker made these trenchers in batches and then split them into sets. Two of these trenchers have a later - probably 19th century - inscription to their reverse reading 'Chinese Card'.

    In the 16th century, cheese, sweetmeats and other confections were eaten off the plain side of trenchers like these after a meal or festive banquet. Each guest would then turn the trencher over and recite the verse inscribed thereon. These short verses were often moral, satirical or religious in nature.

    A similar set of trenchers is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York which is dated to the mid-16th century. One of the roundelays [Accession Number 64.101.1566] is painted with red and yellow flowers, red endless knots and a gilt border; a similar trencher is sold in this lot.

    Comparable late 16th and early 17th century roundelays sold, Sotheby's, 6th June 2006, Lot 228; Christie's, 27th May 1999, Lot 319; Christie's, 8th November 2006, Lot 95; Christie's, 27th April 2006, Lot 24.

    Literature:
    J. Levi, Treen for the Table (1998), pp. 135 - 137 illustrates three trenchers with a very similar decorative scheme, the verses written by almost certainly the same hand. E. H. Pinto, Treen & Other Wooden Bygones (1985), Plates 76 & 77 illustrates a set of rectangular trenchers, whose box was in the form of a book, and another set of eleven trenchers, which he dates to the second quarter of the 16th century.
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