IN THE CITY HALLS

In the Curiosities of London, by Mr. John Timbs, F.S.A., the first edition of which was published in 1855, much is written about the valuable old plate still owned by the City Guilds. Since then these ancient cups have often-times been exhibited and described and no doubt many are acquainted with the extravagant size and historic beauty which gives them a special charm ; many indeed are emblematic and refer to the former duties of these old guilds and to the prominent positions their masters held in civic life. These cups are in some instances still in the custody of the guilds, but they have, in other cases, been deposited in Museums and places of greater safety where they can be seen and admired by the masses, who in olden time rarely caught a sight of them. Mr. Timbs divides his important references into records of the twelve great Companies and then those of the lesser guilds-a similar plan being followed in recent years by the author of The City Companies of London. Mr. Timbs tells of the beautiful painted windows in old Clothworkers' Hall, a building that narrowly escaped the Great Fire, lovingly calling to remembrance that window placed there in memory of Samuel Pepys, who was Master of the Company in 1677, and who gave the Company " a great silver election cup and cover, embossed and parcel gilt." This and many other cups of equal note were reproduced in electrotypes in 1881 by Messrs. Elkington & Co., for exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum, where they can be seen, and the details of their composition and emblematic value read upon the official labels placed thereon. Here, too, can be seen that wonderful cup belonging to the Barber-Surgeons, given by Charles II, in 1678. There are many published descriptions of this noted cup, the one given in Chamber's Book of Days, published in 1869 is, we consider, the best. It reads, " a cup of silver, partially gilt, the stem and body representing an oak tree from which hang acorns, fashioned as little bells ; they ring as the cup passes from hand to hand round the festive board of the Company on great occasions." Those who desire to verify this description can see for them-selves the replica in the Victoria and Albert Museum ; they can there recall the weary days when Cromwell's roundheads chased the royalists from wood to wood and so nearly succeeded in catching Charles himself. The Mercers have an Election Cup of silver-gilt, a sixteenth century cup, the cover being fashioned after the legend of an unicorn yielding its horn to a fair maiden. That is the description of the Leigh Cup given by Mr. Timbs, who also adds that the inscription enamelled upon it reads : "To elect the master of the mercerie hither am I sent, And by Sir Thomas Leigh for the same intent." The Goldsmiths' Company have many rare treasures in plate, many of which have been illustrated, the cup which Mr. Timbs thought worthy of special mention being that out of which Queen Elizabeth is said to have drank, bequeathed by Sir Martin Boews. But these cursory notices are enough surely to indicate the immense treasures in cups still owned by the old foundations ; they are, however, but a trifle compared with the silver plate such institutions once possessed.