Sir James Colquhoun: Wedding casket

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colquhoun-casketA WEDDING Casket presented by the people of Helensburgh to local laird Sir James Colquhoun and his wife to mark their marriage in 1904 was sold at auction on May 4 2006.

In the Fine Decorative Arts & Design from 1870 Sale at Sotheby’s in London, the casket, designed by Edward Spencer and executed by Charles Moxey and Robert Fergusson of the Artificers’ Guild, was bought by an un-named buyer for £48,000.

The following details and accompanying picture are published on this website by kind permission of Sotheby’s, Olympia House, Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UX.


Silver and bronze shaped oblong body, the front inscribed “This casket is presented to Sir James and Lady Colquhoun on the occasion of their marriage by the feuars and residents of the town of Helensburgh and district 1904.”

Bordering — the enamelled bearings of Sir James and Lady Colquhoun, the Urquharts and the town of Helensburgh between glass cabochons above paua shell and against a ground of scrolling vines surmounted by doves, applied wire twists terminating in crowned hearts, set with agate, mother of pearl, and turquoise.

The cover — inscribed “All is beauty and knowing this, is love, and love is duty”, above plaited lozenges against paua shell, the gabled ends with chrysoprase finials in vine foliage crowns.

The sides — with vacant shield cartouches above bronze handles with mounted shell motifs at corners.

The back — applied with trailing vine, the bronze hinges terminating in stylised foliage and set with cornelian, garnet, chalcedony and opal.

Literature and References:

Helensburgh and Gareloch Times: November 9, 1904, Presentations to Sir James Colquhoun, Bart. November 16, 1904, Fashionable Wedding, Sir James Colquhoun, Bart., to Miss Urquhart. May 10, 1905, The Colquhoun Presentation Casket. The Studio, Studio-Talk, Volume 35, 1905, p.338.

Catalogue Note:

Sir James Colquhoun was held in high esteem by the feuars, tenants and residents of his Helensburgh estate and a few weeks after the announcement of his marriage to Miss Ivie Urquhart, a presentation was made to convey their warm congratulations on 5th November 1904, and was reported in the Helensburgh and Gareloch Times: “The movement to mark in a tangible form the esteem in which the lord of the manor is held was heartily gone into by feuars and residentors in the parish. The presentation took place in the Pillar Hall on Saturday afternoon . . . (the hall) was filled to overflowing.”