Large Silver ‘Swami’ Salver by T.R. Tawker & Sons
diameter: 32cm, height when flat: 2cm, weight: 997g
This heavy silver salver with its crenulated edges is in a shape reminiscent of Dutch colonial silver salvers of the eighteenth century.
The rim is cast with a beaded edging punctuated by
kala masks, and it has been engraved with eight roundels filled with a yogi or deity each in a different pose, and between the roundels is scrolling foliage.
The reverse is stamped with the words ‘T.R. Tawker & Sons’, ‘Madras’ and ‘Silver’.
The Tawkers were a Gujarat family that made their home in Madras where they founded a jewellery business. (They belonged to the Khedawal community which traditionally dealt in jewellery and diamonds – an eighteenth century diary of an assistant of Francois Dupleix, the Governor of Pondicherry, mentions one Nilakanta Tawker as a diamond merchant who helped the French sell a large consignment of diamonds plundered from an English ship.) The business was founded in 1761 in Madras.
The family bought a site in Mount Street in 1893 and built a Indo-Saracenic building to house their showrooms. The building became known as Tawker’s Building. The company had a large client base that included zamindars, royalty and leading musicians, and in 1903, it represented Madras at the Delhi Exhibition held in conjunction with the Coronation Durbar, along with the other well known Madras firm P. Orr and Sons.
T.R. Tawker & Sons experienced financial difficulties in the first and second decades of the twentieth century. The death of Mahboob Ali Pasha, the Sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, was a significant factor. The firm had supplied to his court an expensive robe studded with diamonds but he died in 1911 and the payment was never made. The firm was declared insolvent in 1925.
UK/US private collection
Inventory no.: 1330
The Tawker’s Building, Madras, circa 1900.