CIVIC TABLE PLATE

Many who have attended a state banquet provided by civic functionaries have been amazed at the wealth of table plate used on those occasions. There have been the great standing salts which once served a really useful purpose, the silver and silver-gilt dishes and plates have been much admired, and the handsome centrepieces and great vases of silver have given dignity to the table. Many have gazed almost with awe at the rose-water dishes of silver and gold which have been handed round the table, and great has been the admiration shown by those present when the large two-handled loving cup has been passed round. These great cups have always been favourite pieces of plate, and fortunate indeed are those comparatively modern borough towns whose mayors have been able to bequeath them such handsome possessions. Fortunate indeed is the City of Cardiff in the possession of the magnificent loving cup which was given to Cardiff by the Marquis of Bute in 1891, and by the courtesy of the Town Clerk, we are enabled to give a description of that delightful piece of plate which weighs 389 ounces 5 dots. The cup was made by James Crichton & Co., of Edinburgh, and is hall-marked with the Edinburgh hall-mark ; it is fashioned in three parts, the base, the cup, and the cover ; on the base are figures enamelled on silver, emblematic of the three local rivers, the Taff, the Ely, and the Rumney. These figures are seated among water lilies which are

wrought in white enamel with diamond centres, The Taff, the largest river, is represented by an old man with silver hair and beard, the two smaller rivers by youths. Around the stem is coiled the red dragon of Wales, studded over with rubies and diamonds, and emerald eyes. This magnificent cup, which stands 32 inches high, is richly jewelled with diamonds, sapphires, amethysts, rubies, emeralds, carbuncles, and aquamarines. The cup has two shields upon which are engraved the arms of the donor and of the town. The cover is surmounted by a female figure wearing a mural crown, her right foot resting on a block of coal, and her left on a ship's rudder ; at her foot Sabrina, the Goddess of the Rivern Severn. Needless to say this handsome work of art is emblematic of Cardiff, a well known coal and shipping port. Although it does not appear to be quite in keeping with civic presentations, in many instances beautiful silver epergnes have been given ; a fine example being one presented by Alderman Sir Thomas Morel, J.P., who was Mayor of Cardiff in 1898. That also was a splendid addition to the Civic plate, and especially interesting in that it was at one time the property of Charles X of France, who during his exile in England, resided at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh (see Figure 41). The silver punch bowl or Monteith in Figure 42 is also in possession of the Corporation of Cardiff, having been presented by Alderman Brain, J.P., and forms an interesting and valuable addition to the Cardiff civic plate.