Tea and coffee set

ARTIST / MAKER: Samuel Smily (maker)
Goldsmiths Alliance Ltd. (manufacturer)
DATE: 1874 (made)
PLACE: England (made)

This silver-gilt tea and coffee set features a teapot, coffee pot, kettle and stand, hot water jug, sugar bowl and two milk jugs. Each component bears the mark of Samuel Smily, a London based silversmith and the manager of the Goldsmith’s Alliance Ltd., who retailed this set. The Smilys were a family of silversmiths active during the 19th century, and Samuel Smily had apprenticed with his father before registering his own mark and taking over his father’s management position. Each piece in this set is chased with finely detailed bands of Indian-style foliage and Indian deities embossed and chased in high relief. India was the British Empire’s most prized colony during the 19th century and goods produced there for the export market were greatly admired by British craftsmen and designers who took great inspiration from them. On 3rd February 1876 Samuel Smily submitted a design to the patent office for an “Indian pattern tea kettle with Chinese dragon handles”. The floral motifs that decorate this set were most likely inspired by the foliate ornament produced in India during the 17th century under the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.