A Rare Mid-17th Century Counter Box with 18 original counters

C over W
Circa 1650
1" (2.5 cm) high, 1" (2.5 cm) diameter

Of cylindrical shape with stamped decoration to the sides, the main part with a wide band of Tudor Roses separated by panels of a lozenge crossed by two diagonal bars surrounded by 4 pellets. The roses with similar pellets and the band within 2 smaller horizontal bands of ovolos. The bezel engraved with crosses and chevrons and the pull-off top with a matching wide band. The top also of very similar design to the counters being a heart pierced with crossed arrows within a shield and all surrounded by a serrated band.


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The emblem of 2 arrows piercing a heart was used to denote support for the Royalist cause both before and after the execution of Charles I on 30th January 1649. Two heart-shaped lockets, both engraved with the heart motif, have appeared on the market within the last few years. One belonginging to Mssrs Wartski has a portrait of Charles I inside and the other, sold by Dix, Noonan and Webb in September 15th-18th, 2015, lot 1611, has a loyal inscription "I live and dy in loyalte". Another is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

It is very tempting to attribute the maker to either Caleb Westbrook or Charles Wheeler. However, both makers appear to have been working later on in the 17th century. Furthermore the maker's mark is different on this box compared to those recorded in David Mitchell, Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London, page 264. The C.W mark on the counter box is flanked by pellets whereas that recorded by Mitchell is not.

A very similar but unmarked box was sold at Sotheby's, 5th July, 2005, Lot 87 for £1800 (inc.)

It should be noted that counter boxes of this type appear to be much rarer than those with a portrait of Charles I on the cover and with counters by Simon Van De Passe.