Benjamin Godfrey

( 1741 )

An Exceptionally Rare Pair of Rococo Candelabra

Benjamin Godfrey

( 1741 )

An Exceptionally Rare Pair of Rococo Candelabra

George II 
London, 1739
Maker's mark of Benjamin Godfrey

Height: 41.2 cm, 16.2 in.
Weight: 4603gr., 148 oz

Bearing the coat-of-arms of Phipps Townsend

A pair of silver candelabra depicting Mrs Catherine Phipps wearing her gold Fetish jewels, and a Kente Ashantee cloak. Made in 1739 for Bridget the daughter of Captain -General, James Phipps of Cape Coast Castle, of the Royal African Company.

The figures supporting the candelabra are female in reference to the Mrs Catherine Phipps, wife of the late James Phipps Captain-General of the Royal African Company of England stationed at Cape Coast Castle, Accra who died in 1738. Her Kente Ashantee dress and her gold Fetish jewellery put together with the known family provenance provide the keys to her identification.

Both candelabra are richly cast and chased, the domed shaped circular bases of rococo scrolling foliage incorporating three cartouches enclosing a coat of arms and two crests, the stems in the form of kneeling slaves, each with detachable two-light branches, the sconces supported on the heads of female caryatids, the drip pans each engraved with two crests above esquires' helmets and foliate mantling, the undersides with scratch weights: '40 - 19' and '39 = 9'


Seemingly ordered by Bridget Townsend née Phipps from the London silversmith Benjamin Godfrey after the death of her mulatto mother Catherine Phipps who died intestate in Cape Coast Castle near Accra, Ghana in 1738.  Her mothers’ estate was administered by her sister Henrietta.
To Bridget’son by Chauncey Townsend, James Townsend (1737 – 1 July 1787)
To James’ daughter Henrietta Jemima Townsend who married Nicolas Owen Smythe Owen of Condover Hall, Shropshire whose arms and crests they currently bear.
The later arms of Smythe quartering the quarterly arms of Leighton and Owen for Owen Smythe Owen(1769-1804) of Condover Hall, Shropshire, who  married at All Hallows, Tottenham, on 12 July 1790, Henrietta Jemima, daughter of James Townsend, and his wife Henrietta (née Hare, 1745-1785).
They died without issue.
Then by descent when the family estate Condover went to a distant relative, Reginald Cholmondeley (1826-1896), of Hodnet and Condover Hall, Shropshire
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, 17 June 1895, lot 60
The property of a Gentleman, Christie’s, London, 10 and 11 July 1984, lot 353.
Private Collection UK.

No records exist for the apprenticeship or freedom of Benjamin Godfrey. However, it is almost a certainty that he was under the employment of Abraham Buteux. Godfrey married Buteux's widow, Elizabeth, in 1732 and entered his first marks in the same year. He was recorded at the same address in Norris Street, Haymarket when his subsequent marks were registered in 1739 and 1741. Huguenot influence is evident in his fine plate, but rococo designs can also be found among his works. Elizabeth entered her mark alone, also in 1741, and is described as the goldsmith, silversmith and jeweller to the duke of Cumberland. It is not known if Benjamin worked with her after this date.

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Benjamin Godfrey