The silversmith John Emes (1762–1810) served his apprenticeship with William Woolett, joining the firm of Henry Chawner in 1786, and registering joint marks with him ten years later. In 1798 Emes succeeded Chawner on his retirement, managing the business until his death when it was managed by his wife and brother, Rebeccah and William Emes, in 1808. An important London-based silversmith, Emes specialised in the production of tea and coffee sets and was known for his elegant designs.
This tea set is typical of the neoclassical style, popular in Britain from the mid 18th century as a result of the archaeological excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and the interest that these aroused. Such designs were circulated further with travel by wealthy Europeans across the continent in what is termed the Grand Tour, where classical art and sculpture were brought back to adorn their country estates. The plain forms with simplistic decorative banding and angular handles of this set evoke the movement’s guiding principles of symmetry and simplicity.
The set is engraved with the arms of William Lewis Hughes (1767-1852) Whig politician and philanthropist, who was created 1st Baron Dinorben on the 10th of September 1831. He also held the position of ADC (aide-de-camp) to Queen Victoria, was Colonel of the Anglesey Militia, and founded a free school for girls on the Kinmel estate in 1830. He was the son of Reverend Edward Hughes of Kinmel Park, Denbighshire, and Mary Hughes (née Lewis) who had inherited the house of Llysdulas on Anglesey, along with ‘barren hill’, later termed Parys Mountain, which held great deposits of copper, and the source of the family’s fortune.