The Bacon Cup is part of a group of nine pieces of historic English silver which comes from the celebrated collection of Sir Ernest Cassel (1852-1921), friend and financial adviser to Edward VII.

The silver has been acquired along with Portrait of a Woman by Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

The works passed to Cassel's granddaughter, Edwina Ashley, 1st Countess Mountbatten of Burma (1901-60), then to her daughter, Patricia, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma (1924-2017).

Among the items of historic English silver, the finest piece is the Bacon Cup (pictured), a superb survival of Elizabethan silver made by Royal Goldsmith Affabel Partridge for Sir Nicholas Bacon, Keeper of the Great Seal and later Lord Chamberlain to Elizabeth I. The piece is one of three cups made for Bacon in 1574 using silver recycled from the Great Seal of Mary I.

The collection also includes two rare cups made during the Commonwealth period: the Blacksmiths’ Cup, a superb example of livery company plate made in 1655, and a fine cup
and cover attributed to Robert Gregory, hallmarked 1653.

Moreover, a pair of elaborately embossed and chased ginger jars, c1660, represent the quality and extravagance of pieces that were made for the court during the Restoration period. Further fine items include a William and Mary flagon, Queen Anne cup and cover, and George I cup and cover. Finally, a superb silver basket made by Isaac Duke in 1746 is of particular interest due to the finely engraved heraldry linking it to its original owner, John, 2nd Earl of Ashburnham.

Cassel, a German-born banker who had arrived penniless in Liverpool in 1869, derived much of his wealth from financing projects abroad, including the construction of the Aswan Dam in Egypt. He channelled his money and connoisseurship into building a remarkable collection.

The portrait and silver, which have been acquired through a hybrid acceptance-in-lieu offer, now join the world-class holdings of English silver and Flemish art at the Ashmolean. These include prints, drawings and paintings by Van Dyck, and two other pieces of outstanding silver from the Cassel collection.


Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510-1579), Lord Keeper of the Great Seal;His second son, Sir Nathaniel Bacon (1547-1622) of Stewkey (Stiffkey), Norfolk;Anne Bacon (1573-1622), Sir Nathaniel’s eldest daughter and heiress, who was married in 1593 toSir John Town

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