This impressive silver-gilt cup and salver were bought by the city of Plymouth in 1680 as a gift of thanks to John Sparke, who served as MP for the city from 1677 to 1680.

The ReceiverÂ’s Book for that year records the purchase: ‘£37 10s paid for a large silver salver Cawdle Cupp and cover, embost and thick washed with gold weighing 75 ounces, given to John Spark one of the burgesses in Parliament for this Borough, in token of the Respect and Gratitude of this Towne for his faithful and diligent service.Â’ The salver and cup – known as the Sparke Cup – were made in London by silversmith Thomas Jenkins, whose mark appears on both pieces. Jenkins is regarded as a significant silversmith of the Restoration period, and the chased and embossed decoration on the cup are superb examples of his skill. Plymouth silversmith Joseph Wilcockes was paid 10s to engrave the arms of the city and of Sparke onto the salver and cup. The work is unusual because the arms are pricked into the silver, with shading in some areas. This is a rare example of this type of decoration, and its attribution to a local silversmith adds to the value of the piece as a significant artefact in PlymouthÂ’s history.


Presented to John Sparke by the city of Plymouth in 1680; to William Sparke (d.1714), his son; Jon Molesworth; by direct descent to Lt Col Sir Arscott Molesworth St-Aubyn; sale, Sotheby's London,1994, Lot 208; Timothy Schroder from 1994.

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