Lovely antique French sterling silver 7 7/8" tall chocolate pot, verseuse or hot water pot with baluster shaping, turned wood handle, hinged lid finial for included wooden stir stick and armorial style engraved crest or heraldry, three bees with the crown of a count! A first in several aspects, this wonderful serving piece not only has no spout but the lid is not attached to the body, quite unique. Likely a custom commissioned piece for the royal family to which the crest belongs. In the style of the old 18th century side-handled chocolate pots, this one more likely meant for warm milk or water though the stir stick would be more in line with milk or chocolate... Nothing too frilly here, just a simple utilitarian pot but as elegant as can be with the royal crown topped crest. I sure wish I could provide more history or provenance but, as is the case with so many treasures, we just have to imagine. Enjoy!
Bees appear as a canting device for a number of families: the English families Bye, Bee, Beebee, Beeston; the French families Abeille, Melet de Saint-Martin, Mellier, Mieulet (honey=miel in French); German family Biene; Flemish family Bezoet de Bie; Dutch family van Byemont; Spanish families Abello, Abella; Greek family Melisurgo de Melissenos; etc.
Bees are a symbol of industriousness. Thus, Sir Robert Peel, baronet (1800) was a textile manufacturer and philanthropist (his son was the Prime Minister): they bore Argent, three sheaves of as many arrows proper banded gules, on a chief azure a bee volant or. Also, Arkwright of Willersley in Derbyshire: Argent on a mount vert a cotton tree fructed proper on a chief azure between two besants an inescutcheon of the field charged with a bee volant proper. Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-92) was the inventor of the cotton jenny.
Bees were used in Napoleonic heraldry. They were a reserved charge: no one could use a bee without a specific Imperial grant. Princes Grands Dignitaires received on a chief azure a semy of bees or as augmentation (Berthier de Wagram, Talleyrand, Bernadotte, Lebrun de Plaisance). The most important cities of the Empire received a chief gules charged with three bees or: Paris, Aachen, Amsterdam, Bremen, Brussels, Cologne, Dijon, Florence, Genoa, Ghent, Hamburg, Lyon, Parma.
Very good condition. The smooth, mirror like exterior has some faint dimpling or waviness to it but there are no dents, no damage or repairs that I can see. Normally, the wood portion of the handle unscrews for polishing but this one appears to be fixed in place. Marked with the French Minerve or Minera hallmark but I see no silversmith markings (common in commissioned pieces though). See pictures for weight and measurements.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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