An Important and Extremely Rare William III Caddinet

Anthony Nelme
9.2" (23.5 cm) wide x 7.75" (19.5 cm) deep x 3" (7.6 cm) high
29 oz

Of oblong shape raised on 4 cast dolphin's head feet. The back with a long rectangular box with hinged lid and reeded border, the centre with a fluted knopped finial surrounded by a shaped square panel of scrolled and open cut card work, each end with similar cut card work ornament shaped as a fleur de lis. The front with a similar but smaller box with pull-off lid, the latter with matching finial and cut card work within a reeded border. The plain base with a moulded surround.

Fully marked on the inside of the large box, the lid with lion passant and maker's mark. Also marked on the smaller box with maker's mark on the bottom and lion passant on the lid.

The small box fastened by a screw thread and nut and with a small peg to prevent the box from rotating.


Edith Kane Baker

Sotheby’s New York, October 28-29th, 1977, Lot 610

Garrrard & Company 1981

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A Caddinet is a stand for presenting a knife, fork and spoon to a member of the Royal Family. Such items are known but they are now all in the Royal collection. Even so there are only 3 of them and this is the first English example ever to come on the open market. The box at the front is for salt and the whole purpose of the object was to ensure the ruling monarch used their own personal cutlery, possibly to avoid poisoning. They were also used for bread and the larger ones had a folded napkin placed on them. This one might have had arms of the original owner initially but not surprisingly if it was sold out of the Royal Household they didn’t want any identifying features on it so the arms would have been removed.

 Caddinets originated in France in the 17th century, for years they were thought to be Inkstands but Charles Oman wrote a definitive article in the Burlington Magazine in 1958 revealing their true purpose.

The Queen has three , all silver-gilt. One by Anthony Nelme (the same maker as this one) dated 1688 made for the Coronation of William and Mary in 1688, Another by William Eycott, 1683, supplied to Charles II. Both of these were sold by the Royal Family in 1808 to help repay some of the Prince Regent’s debts. They were purchased by Lord Lonsdale in whose family they remained until 1975 and were then bought by private treaty by the Queen through Christies. The third one is much later in date and made by the famous Italian designer and silversmith Luigi Valadier for Henry Benedict Stuart Cardinal Duke of York, c.1785. By this time they were being used by the nobility throughout Europe but surprisingly few of them have survived. It is possible that this Nelme example, if it wasn’t made for a member of the Royal Family, was made for a senior member of the nobility for use when the monarch came to visit….a sort of respectful gesture.