INCREASED TRADE BROUGHT PROSPERITY

It should be noted that there was a great impetus to trade in the beginning of the century, followed, of course, by increased wealth to many who had been impoverished by wars and times of civil disturbance. That new prosperity that came with the eighteenth century was shared by the craftsmen who made the home beautiful, and not the least so by the silversmiths and the pewterers, both of which crafts were kept busy ; at that time largely discarding old shapes and methods of working which had been associated with their individual trades, fashioning the metal work and decorating it according to the styles prevailing in furniture, textiles, and imported goods from China and other Eastern countries. Most of the noted silversmiths of that day were " little masters," working at the bench and employing one or two journeymen and, perhaps, two or three apprentices. Heavy walnut furniture of the earlier days of Queen Anne required massive plate to appropriately make the display of silver and pewter in keeping with the rest of the things in the house ; but as her reign drew to a close the silver became lighter, more graceful in form, the ornament better and more profuse ; the engraver was encouraged and right nobly responded to the call, chasing beautiful candlesticks, and ornamenting the more important table silver. Much of the details of the decoration was left to his fancy, but he was generally careful to fall in line with the accepted styles of the period. The City merchants grew rich ; the state of Society in the City and the houses in which traders lived and furnished lavishly can be judged by some of the old buildings still standing as typical examples of houses of the well-to-do of London and elsewhere. These old houses were richly upholstered, and the plate and pewter and brass vessels in daily use were in keeping with the wealth and status of the people who dwelt in those old homes and used those now valuable antiques. There was for a time an era of prosperity, and money was made and expended, the metal worker receiving a large share of the trade for improved household equipment. It is said that in the days of George II, there was very little difference in the style of living of an earl and a merchant prince ; even a well-to-do tradesman had a well furnished house behind his shop, a pretty city garden full of flowers and quaint leaden statues, not forgetting the old sundial, and a cellar of choice wines and spirits. There was plenty of good living and a rich supply of substantial table plate. The eighteenth century was famous for its taverns and coffee houses. The inns in London were calling places for the coaches and post chaises travelling in and out of the city. It must be remembered, however, that the taverns, later supplemented by the coffee houses, were the meeting places of traders and their customers, and that the habit of ratifying all important transactions by drinking together was firmly rooted in the business system of that day, and some may say that they have not yet entirely died out. The popularity of the taverns provided another outlet for the silversmiths and pewterers, for these houses were then rich in their stores of silver and pewter vessels, and many fine flagons, bowls, cups, and table plate in public galleries, and in private collections to-day, were first made for the innkeepers of olden times.