OLD PIECES

Among the valuable possessions of these ancient guilds, perhaps the most interesting are the remains of their plate chests, quaint and curious pieces of silver which have been given at different times to enrich and beautify their halls, and to enhance the interest of their great feasts. Some of these pieces of silver are of very ancient date, but the London guilds have suffered much in the past, and great inroads have been made upon their stores of plate. At different times they have been called upon to provide funds in order that the sovereign of these realms might carry on wars in foreign parts. Sometimes they have parted with their silver in order to pay forced loans, and in the Great Fire of London many of the Worshipful Companies lost their halls, their archives, and many of their treasures. There are, however, still many pieces of plate jealously guarded by the City Companies, too much many would say, for it is seldom that these pieces are shown to the public, and their custodians seem to be very much averse to giving any publicity to the relics which tell of the old masters and the craftsmen who founded many of the principal trades in this country.