Porcelain Punchbowls

These two punch bowls are painted with the arms of the Fletchers’ Company.  Armorial porcelain became fashionable during the eighteenth century and it was quite common for those with a coat of arms, both individuals and corporations, to order items to be made for them.  The Chinese factories maintained agents in London who showed customers their pattern books and took the orders, which were sent out to Canton with a coloured drawing of the arms, and in time the goods were shipped back.  Much of this trade was sponsored by the East India Company.

On 25th January 1817 the widow of a Liveryman, George Jefferies, presented to the Court two china bowls “with the arms of the Company painted thereon”; in return, she received £5 as alms.

It seems that the origin of these bowls was forgotten, for on 1st July 1930, the Clerk reported that on his father’s death, he had found two bowls of “great age” bearing the Company’s Arms, though he did not know how they had come into his father’s possession.  It was decided that the bowls should be in the keeping of the Master for the time being.  In May 1952 it was reported that one bowl was badly damaged, and had to be repaired.

Past Master Ian MacLellan offered to have the punchbowls restored through the good offices of his wife Yomei.  The bowls are now on display in the silver cabinet in the Hall and it is difficult to spot that they have been reassembled from hundreds of fragments, such was the skill of the restoration.


By Liveryman Andrew Dyke