Silver Flagon of The Hicks Family

Page 1

Silver Flagon of The Hicks Family





Table of Contents Introductory Details

Page 5

Exterior Design

Page 6

Interior Design

Page 8

The Hicks Family History

Page 10

Athelstan Hicks Map

Page 11

The Inscription (English Ballad)

Page 14

Modelling and Formation

Page 16

Suggested Use

Page 18

Caring for your Silverware

Page 20 Modelling and Formation Suggested Use Caring for your Silverware



Details Maker: Thomas Smiley (1858-1883) Assay Office: London, 1864 Construction: Sterling Silver (925) Diameter: 33.5cm Height: 29cm Weight: 2.7KG Capacity: 4.5 Litres

Description Flagon of the Hicks family presented to Athelstan Braxton Hicks (19th June 1854 – 17th May 1902). Inscription: “A goblet of Burgundy fill fill for me. Give those, who prefer it Champagne: But whatever the wine a bumper must be, If we ne’er drink a bumper again. Now, Now when the cares of the day are thrown by, and all man’s best feelings possess him, and the soul lights her beacon of truth in the eye. Here’s a health to the Queen, God bless her! God bless her! God bless her! Here’s a health to the Queen. God bless her!” June 10th, 1885


Exterior Design


pon first glance, the immense scale and proportions of the flagon are apparent with the uniquely large geometric size and presence of this drinking vessel. The scale may be best perceived by envisioning a regular milk pitcher or creamer jug and then scaling the item by multiple times – resulting in the design to be somewhat resembling that of a regular pitcher, less the tremendous overall size of the vessel. Exterior wise, the flagon is embellished with an array of fluted lines and beads, presented in the style of Queen Anne silverware. A fluted design with beaded accents on both ends of the cylindrical body with fine stippled margins encompasses the body. A cartouche with the Hicks’ family crest and motto is engraved on the right-hand side of the flagon, featuring hand-chased scrolls and acanthus foliate borders. The wide and supportive handle extends to a heart-shaped finial and is applied to the body with ivory insulators on each end, conjoining with a hinged lid at the top. The heavy lid features a robust thumbpiece for ease of opening and the top face of the lid is engraved with a humorous inscription. The flared spout extends from below with further chased foliate motifs and a reinforced border.



Interior Design


he interior of the flagon is equally magnificent with a fully gilt body and lid which reflects off the cylindrical shape of the wall, intensifying the lustre and brilliance of the internal gold colour. As with most silverware that would be exposed to food, liquids or consummate items, the interior is gilded with a gold plate which not only serves an aesthetic purpose in contrasting the silver exterior, but rather is applied to add a layer of protection from oxidation. Exposing silver to air, especially when oxidants are placed within, the oxidation process is sped up resulting in tarnishing and potential build-up of rust. The less reactive properties of gold act as a barrier to such reactions, prolonging the shiny lustre and polished appearance to the interior. Due to the sizeable proportion of this flagon, the volumetric capacity of the vessel is consequently large at 4.5 litres or (nearly) 8 pints to the brim. Flagons were usually drinking vessels that contained alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine, however, the inscription on the lid suggests the contents should not be rigidly bound to solely wine, but rather “whatever the wine a bumper must be� such as the likes of champagne.



The Hicks Family


he origins of the Hicks family are from Anglo-Saxon roots in Britain with the earliest records being found in Yorkshire during the 13th Century. The crest and motto found of the Hicks family portray a buck’s head with the motto “Tout En Bonne Heure” translating to “All In Good Time” in French. Whilst there are several notable names within the Hicks family, the crest, inscription and age of the flagon indicate that the flagon was gifted to Athelstan Braxton Hicks (2nd image), Coroner of London (appointed 1885). Following in the footsteps of his father John Braxton Hicks (1st image) - an English doctor and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1862, Athelstan was a student at Guy’s Hospital for some time before he would become appointed as Coroner for the South-Western District of London and the Kingston Division of Surrey in 1885. Aside from his career as a Coroner, Athelstan married Fanny Sarah Sutton in 1883 and would live at 20 Lupus Street, Pimlico, until his eventual passing on the 17th of May 1902 at his home. It is most probable that this flagon was a presentation gift to Athelstan as a celebratory symbol for his appointment as Coroner, as indicated by the date engraved underneath the inscription – June 10th 1885.





The Inscription


goblet of Burgundy fill fill for me. Give those, who prefer it Champagne: But whatever the wine a bumper must be, If we ne’er drink a bumper again. Now, Now when the cares of the day are thrown by, And all man’s best feelings possess him, and the soul lights her beacon of truth in the eye. Here’s a health to the Queen, God bless her! God bless her! God bless her! Here’s a health to the Queen. God bless her!”

The inscription engraved on the lid is a revised version of the original English Ballad featured in the first image. Whilst the original literature is a toast to the King, as this flagon was made during Queen Victoria’s (2nd image) reign, the ballad has been slightly altered to match what would have been their current monarch. English ballads are often narratives set to music with poetic rhythm and feel. Ballads are often written in ABAB form – a poetry rhyme scheme that rhymes every other line: e.g. “me” with “be” and “Champagne” with “again” etc.



Modelling and Formation


his flagon made by silversmith Thomas Smiley may have been a commissioned piece or a specially made one off piece of silverware considering its unique size, form and history as a presentation gift. Such pieces would be ordered on an ad hoc basis with the silversmith working on the piece for a considerable duration of hours. This flagon features a heavy emphasis on bold geometric designs as exhibited by the vertical fluted lines and the beaded ends which are in the style of Queen Anne silverware. What would eventually become the body of the flagon would start its modelling as a silver sheet on which the silversmith would chase the lines by using a punch and hammer. Chasing is a metalwork technique in which a malleable metal is shaped by hammering the front side and indenting the surface of the metal. A variety of different sized punches would be used to attain different designs: a rather larger punch such as the one in the first photo would be used to create vertical lines, whereas a finer one would be utilised for the foliate leaves around the cartouche.



Suggested Use


hilst flagons were designed as vessels to carry liquid content, with such a heavy and colossal size, this single piece of silverware would be equally admirable and appropriate as a display and presentation piece. Accompanied with additional silverware such as flatware and tankards, the flagon would grace a majestic dinner table as a centre-piece display or if necessary, as a practical drinks jug. As aforementioned in the inscription, wine or champagne is suggested for the content of the beverage, however, for practical and modern-day usage, the flagon would equally be an indulging and regal manner for pouring any drink of your choice. Needless to mention, servings of food and beverages with such silverware will additionally highlight and emphasises your tableware and the overall ambience of your interior.



Care for your Silverware


s with all antiques and objects of great value, methods for preservation, care and handling are necessary to ensure its enduring beauty and value. Silverware naturally tarnishes when exposed to air and whilst there are no physical issues caused by such discolouration, in order to enjoy your silverware in its full glory, a light polish may be required from time to time. Our recommendation of silver polish is Goddard’s silver polishing foam. Whilst there are many products available, we find this product to be the superior choice for its nonabrasive yet long-lasting polishing properties. As an easily purchasable and applicable solution to all silverware with no risk of “wearing out” your silverware, we suggest that you use this polish from time to time on the exterior of the flagon to keep its shine and tarnish-free appearance. Alternatively, if stored in an air-tight display cabinet with anti-tarnishing strips which can be purchased online or at a silverware store, this may suffice to prevent tarnishing. Moreover, general care upon handling, such as by using gloves and not exposing the object to harsh liquids will further prolong its condition and prevent damage.



Literature & Referencing    

Athelstan Braxton Hicks ( John Braxton Hicks Wiki ( Hicks Family History ( Hicks Family Crest (

 Images: , Brussels_02.jpg

Artisan Antiques, London Website: Telephone: +447578761640 Email:




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