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Culture Minister defers export of an outstanding George II ewer and basin once used as the trophy for the Doncaster Cup

06 November 2012

Museums and Libraries

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on an important George II silver-gilt ewer and basin, made by leading London goldsmith George Wickes. This will provide a last chance to raise the money to keep the ewer and basin in the United Kingdom.

This is the only known example of a 1730s ewer and basin combining classical and rococo design in such a lavish way. The ewer and basin were once used as a trophy for the Doncaster Cup – a long-distance horse race which has run annually since 1766.

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by Arts Council England. The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the ewer and basin were of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance for the study of the influence of European style on the development of British silver in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Known as the Bristol ewer and basin, these magnificent silver-gilt objects date from around 1735. They were given as a gift by the Corporation of the City of Bristol to John Scrope - a significant figure of early eighteenth century English society - in recognition of his services to the city.

In 1876 they were supplied by the London goldsmith firm R. S. Garrards & Co. for use as a trophy for the Doncaster Cup. The basin is marked with the coat of arms and initials of the owner of the winning horse.

Objects such as these played an influential role in the nineteenth century revival of the rococo style in London-made silver and were used as a model in Garrards’ workshops.

Philippa Glanville, Reviewing Committee member, said: “The ewer and basin are wonderful, unique objects. They really demonstrate the extraordinary skill of goldsmiths in eighteenth century London, and the influence that they had on the design of British silver over the next 200 years.”

The decision on the export licence application for the ewer and basin will be deferred for a period ending on 5 January 2013 inclusive. This period may be extended until 5 May 2013 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds is expressed with a view to making an offer to purchase the ewer and basin at the recommended price of £1,900,000 (plus £380,000 VAT, which can be reclaimed by most public museums).

Notes to editors

  1. Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the ewer and basin should contact:
    The Secretary
    The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
    Arts Council England
    Great Peter Street
    SW1P 3NQ
    Tel: 0845 300 6200
  2. Anyone interested in making a matching offer and who requires further information about the ewer and basin from the Champion should contact The Secretary to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest at the above address.

  3. For enquiries on the operation of and casework arising from the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) please contact the Enquiries team on or 0845 300 6200.

  4. The details of the ewer and basin are:
    The Bristol ewer and basin, silver-gilt, London, George Wickes, 1735-36.
    The ewer 36.2cm high, weight 2,520g, struck four times with maker’s mark only.
    The basin diameter 55.2cm, weight 5,972g, fully marked on underside with London and coat of arms and initials of the winner of the Doncaster Cup in 1876, William Stuart Stirling Crawfurd.
    Both ewer and basin have post-1893 French import mark.

    Judge John Scrope (1662?-1752) as a gift from the Bristol Corporation, his nephew Francis Fane (1698?-1757), his younger brother Henry Fane (1703-1777); R. & S. Garrard & Co, 1876, by whom the ewer and basin were supplied as the Doncaster Cup for that year (15 September 1876); won by William Stuart Stirling Crawfurd (1820-1883); his widow, who became Caroline, Duchess of Montrose; Christie’s London, 29 April 1895, lot 72; Solomon Joel Phillips, London; Asher Wertheimer (1843-1918); Christie’s London, 28 February 1923, lot 29; The Hon. Clive Pearson; Christie’s London, 14 March 1944, lot ; Sotheby’s London, 13 June 1983, lot 45; His Excellency Mohammed Mahdi Al-Tajir.

  5. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the fair market price.

  6. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.