Pair of late 18th Century Seamed Paktong Candlesticks
Pair of late 18th Century Seamed Paktong Candlesticks
Pair of late 18th Century Seamed Paktong Candlesticks
Pair of late 18th Century Seamed Paktong Candlesticks
Pair of late 18th Century Seamed Paktong Candlesticks
Pair of late 18th Century Seamed Paktong Candlesticks

In the manner of WILLIAM CAFE (worked 1757-c.1802)

Pair of late 18th Century Seamed Paktong Candlesticks

c. 1770 London

Offered by Thomas Coulborn & Sons

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Each with a fluted detachable drip-pan with ruffled bobeches, above a knopped stem, on a stepped square gadrooned base. With a spiraling or wrythen shape at the joint of the stem and the base. Decorated with rows of gadrooning.

William Cafe: William Cafe was a silversmith based in London who specialised in candlesticks. He was apprenticed to his brother, John Cafe in 1742; and when John died in 1757, William took over the business and continued the production of candlesticks until 1772. William and John produced indistinguishable cast candlesticks of which, from surviving examples, they appear almost to have had a monopoly in the trade. Heal records William as having had premises in Gutter Lane, London until July 1772. Cafe died between 1802 and 1811.

Keith Pinn illustrates a silver candlestick by John Cafe in his book ‘Paktong: The Chinese Alloy in Europe, 1680-1820’, dating from 1753; alongside a paktong example of a very similar candlestick (see image below – p.27, colour plate 12; and p.93, plate 52), commenting that it would have been very likely that the bases of these two candlesticks were cast from the same mould (Antique Collectors Club Limited, 1999). Pinn states that: ‘almost all of the mid-eighteenth century paktong candlesticks are closely similar to silver examples’, but comments that this example is of particular interest ‘because there is evidence to suggest that it might have been made by a well-known London silversmith’. He continues: ‘[t]he notion that the famous silver candlestick maker John Cafe might be responsible for some of the finer paktong examples, and probably the equally rare silver-form brass candlesticks, has been ventured by several specialists in the past’ (ibid, p.94).

Eloy Koldeweij, in ‘The English Candlestick: 1425-1925’, includes a pair of very similar paktong candlesticks from 1760-80, which are of comparable height to our pair (Christie’s, London, 2001), p.174, cat.161.

In his book ‘Paktong: The Chinese Alloy in Europe, 1680-1820’, Keith Pinn illustrates a ‘pair of mid 18th Century silver form paktong candlesticks of the type that is has been suggested might be the ‘pillar bat wing’ form mentioned in a Christie’s catalogue of 1771, and in the records of John Winter of Sheffield.’ (Antique Collectors Club Limited, 1999), p.100, plate 60 – see image below. Pinn explains that the suggestion is that the term ‘pillar bat wing’ relates to: ‘candlesticks with a square base and a spiralling, or wrythen cone shape at the joint of the stem and the base.’ However, Pinn remains uncertain about this explanation (ibid, p.101).

Rupert Gentle and Rachael Field illustrate a paktong candlestick of comparable design in ‘Domestic Metalwork 1640-1820’ (Antique Collectors’ Club, 1994), p.149, figure 92, dated circa 1755-60 – see image below. They describe it as being: ‘Probably the most beautiful of the candlestick designs, found in brass, Sheffield plate, bell-metal, silver and paktong, also in tapersticks.’

In ‘The Brass Book: American, English and European, Fifteenth Century through 1850, Peter, Nancy and Herbert Schiffer illustrate a pair of brass candlesticks, dated circa 1760, which were probably covered in silver. These candlesticks, described as being of ‘fabulous quality’, are very similar to our pair. The detail on these candlesticks is praised by the authors, who ask the reader to note: ‘the rows of gadrooning, ruffling of the bobeches, and top swelling on the column’. They comment that: ‘these candlesticks suggest the height of Chippendale ‘rococo’ style’. (p.183, figure D).

The Schiffers illustrate another very similar model of paktong taperstick in ‘The Brass Book’, also dated circa 1760 (p.213, figure B), suggesting that: ‘[t]he quality of workmanship and the mold makes it certain that a silversmith’s mold was used to cast these.’ The authors praise for the candlesticks continues: ‘[p]ossibly these are the highest quality, most carefully detailed, designed and finished of any candlestick we have shown in this book.’ Whilst the pair of paktong candlesticks are shorter than our pair at 6.5 inches high; the brass candlesticks above are also around 10 inches in height.
Bibliography:
Eloy Koldeweij, ‘The English Candlestick: 1425-1925′ (Christie’s, London, 2001), p.124.
Keith Pinn, ‘Paktong: The Chinese Alloy in Europe, 1680-1820’ (Antique Collectors Club Limited, 1999), p.26, plates 10-11.
Rupert Gentle and Rachael Field, ‘Domestic Metalwork 1640-1820’ (Antique Collectors’ Club, 1994), p.149, figure 92.
Peter, Nancy and Herbert Schiffer, ‘The Brass Book: American, English and European, Fifteenth Century through 1850‘ (Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1987), p. 213, figure B.
Dimensions
Height 26.00 cm (10.24 inches)
Width 11.50 cm (4.53 inches)
Depth 11.50 cm (4.53 inches)
Stock Code
6616
Medium
Paktong
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

Thomas Coulborn & Sons
Vesey Manor
64 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QP
England

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