Plundered Silver

15th September 2010

Silver candlesticks with a history attached to British privateers and looted Spanish silver have sold at auction in Salisbury.

On 10th July 1745, Captain James Talbot and Captain John Morecock, captaining the privateer ships the ‘Prince Frederick’ and the ‘Duke’ respectively, sighted three armed French treasure ships when cruising the North Atlantic. The ships (the ‘Louis Erasme’, the ‘Marquis d’Antin’ and the ‘Notre Dame’) were returning from Lima with 2,381,000oz of Spanish silver. The two privateers captured the three treasure ships and returned their fortune to Bristol, parading it overland from there to the Tower of London. The value of the plundered silver was £800,000.

The two candelabra in our Silver sale on 21st July were made from pieces of eight, melted down and recast. They bore the crest of Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, who was Lord Chief Justice of England in 1756, and sold for £9,000.

Other highlights of the sale included three lots from a 300 year old silver hoard discovered in Germany in 1967. On 5th February of that year a 17th century house in Bad-Hersfeld was demolished, revealing a stash of silver that had been concealed in one of the cellar walls. It is thought that the items were hidden during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and probably belonged to the Vonder Tann-von Haune family. Following the discovery the items were put on display for a time at a local museum. The silver-gilt tankard sold for £4,200 and the two late 16thcentury spoon for £800 and £900 respectively.

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