Superb Three Piece Silver Teaset by Cooke & Kelvey
height of teapot: 17cm, width: 22cm, weight: 720g.
combined weight of all three pieces: 1,689g
This superb three-piece teaset is in the ‘swami’ style decorated with stylised Indian gods more typical of South Indian colonial silverwork, and most particularly Madras silver. Each piece of this set is stamped to the base with a mark for Cooke & Kelvey, a Calcutta firm that made and retailed silver and other luxury goods for local Europeans, well-to-do merchants and royal houses. The firm was founded in 1857 by Robert Thomas Cooke and Charles Kelvey and employed Indian artisans.
Each piece of the set is surprisingly heavy in the hand. The quality feel of the set is matched by quality workmanship: each piece is decorated with architectural cartouches within which standing stylised god and goddess figures have been added, all against a finely tooled ground. These are within finely executed floral and foliate borders.
Each piece stands on four solid cast feet, styled realistically as lion’s paws.
The creamer and the teapot have finely rendered ‘S’ shaped handles styled as Indian hooded cobras. The sugar bowl has two such handles. The teapot handle is fitted with two dark horn insulators.
The sugar bowl and the teapot re lidded; the teapot lid being hinged. Both items have shoulders that are luxuriantly worked with a double layer of fine acanthus leaf borders. The lids are worked with feather motifs and are domed and finish with bud like finials.
The teapot spout is a beautifully conceived elephant’s head and trunk, the trunk naturalistically reaching up and with a slight curl, and with well-formed tusks to either side.
Each piece is in exceptionally fine condition. There are no repairs, splits or dents. Each piece sits firmly and solidly. There is little wear to the surface decoration from polishing.
Dehejia, V., Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin, 2008.
private collection, UK; and prior to that, the estate of Lady Samuel of Wych Cross.
Inventory no.: 1972