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Benjamin Smith II (1764 - London 1823) The Coote Candelabra

Marks: London, sterling standard, 1812-13, King’s head, maker’s mark of Benjamin Smith II (Grimwade no. 229); marked on base of candelabra, part marked on plinth, branches and wax pans
Height: 35 in (79 cm)
Weight: 933 oz 10 dwt (29,020 g)
The three-sided plinth base of each massive seven-light candelabrum rests on three lions’ paw feet, with sphinxes above.  The tapering circular section stem is set on a base of acanthus, with three pairs of feet at the bottom of the stem and a wide band of acanthus at the top with three female classical busts above and an acanthus socle.  Each scrolling branch is decorated with matted foliage, palmettes and roundels containing lions’ masks and terminating in stylised dolphins’ heads, with detachable fluted wax pans and reeded nozzles.  The stem is engraved with a coat of arms, crest and motto and the wax pans with a crest and motto.  

Additional Images Provenance

Sir Charles Henry Coote, 9th Baronet Cuffe; thence by descent
Sale, Christie’s 17th October 1962, lot 103

Silversmith Biography

Son of Ralph Smith of Birmingham, born 15 December 1764. Married firstly, 8 October 1788, Mary Adams at Egbaston parish church. Apparently to be identified with 'Mr. Smith' introduced through James Alston, on recommendation of 'Mr Nevill,' to Matthew Boulton at Birminham, (Letter dated 18 May 1790. Birmingham Assay Office), then described as 'an Ingeneous Chaser.' By September 1792 the firm of Boulton and Smith, latchet manufacturers was in existence, from the evidence of a specification endorsed 'Smith Buckle Invention' signed James Smith, from which it is clear that both Benjamin and James were with Boulton. In March 1794 they were joined by John Lander, jeweller, who had invented an 'Elastic Shoe Latchet', when Benjamin and James are button makers. Disagreement developed in 1801 when Benjamin threatened to withdraw and go to London and a new partnership was drawn up between Boulton and James in 1802. On 1 February 1802, Benjamin married secondly Mary Shiers at Greenwich Church, by which time he was presumably setting up the workshop there. First mark, in partnership with Digby Scott, 4 October 1802. Address: Limekiln Lane, Greenwich. Second mark together, 21 March 1803. The partnership apparently dissolved by 11 May 1807, when Smith entered a third separate mark. Fourth mark, 25 June 1807. Fifth mark in partnership with his brother James, 23 February 1809. Sixth seperate mark, 14 October 1812. Seventh mark, 15 January 1814. Eighth mark in partnership with his son Benjamin, 5 July 1816. Address: Camberwell. Ninth mark alone again, 25 June 1818. By his first marriage Smith had four sons, of whom Benjamin was the eldest and three daughters, and by Mary Shiers a fourth daughter in 1803 at Greenwich. His third son Digby, born 2 June 1797, may be assumed to be the godson of Digby Scott. There seems little doubt from the accounts preserved in the Boulton papers at Birmingham that Smith was of a difficult and probably irascible nature and this borne out with the variations in his entry of marks with and without partners. His firm was of course, together with Storr, manufacturing almost entirely for Rundell and Bridge, and it seems that the later may have supported Smith's move to London. The firm's most important production is probably The Jamaica Service of 1803 in The Royal Collection. The silver-gilt trays, baskets, and wine coasters with open-work vine borders are among the most distinctive and accomplished achievements. The designs, so closely related to those of Storr, most almost certainly stemmed from central control by Rundell and Bridge.


The arms are those of Coote for Sir Charles Henry Coote (1792-1863), 9th Baronet, of Castle Cuffe, Queens County, who succeeded to the baronetcy in 1802 on the death of Charles Henry, 6th Earl of Montrath.
“The caryatid candelabrum was one of Rundell, Bridge and Rundell’s grandest lines in lighting equipment ... Most were originally supplied either to royalty or to the aristocracy” (Timothy Schroder, The Gilbert Collection of Gold and Silver, 1988, p. 356).  The form was produced over a period of about twelve years, from 1804-15; other examples with variations in their design include a set of twenty-four at Windsor Castle (E. Alfred Jones, The Gold and Silver of Windsor Castle, 1911, pl. LXXX) which lack the sphinxes and have feet of a different design.
The catalogue entry for one of the candelabra in the Royal Collection (Jane Roberts (editor), Royal Treasures: A Golden Jubilee Celebration, 2003, p. 262, no. 183) comments “With its fashionable and eclectic mix of Greek, Roman and Egyptian motifs the design [of this candelabrum] was perhaps influenced by the Anglo-Dutch designer and arbiter of taste, Thomas Hope ... [who] did much to promote the Greek revival and Egyptian styles in England”.  The design incorporates the sphinxes, classical masks and feet, which Hope used in designs for many of the objects intended for his house in Duchess Street in London which were published in 1807 in his influential book Household Furniture and Interior Decoration. Hope in turn probably took elements such as the sphinxes for the feet from Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s engraving of an antique marble candelabrum which was published in Rome in 1778 (Vasi, candelabra, cippi, sarcophagi, tripod, lucerne ed ornamenti antichi).
A drawing for a cup by Jean-Jacques Boileau, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum) has handles with similar roundels to those on the branches of these candelabra.  Boileau also employed sphinxes for a set of four soup tureens of 1802 by Paul Storr which are in the Royal Collection.
A further pair of candelabra from the same set was sold at Christie’s New York on 11th April 1995, lot 234.  A single candelabrum of this design together with a pair of four light candelabra, all by Digby Scott and Benjamin Smith and made for the Duke of Sussex, was in the Al-Tajir Collection (Charles Truman, The Glory of the Goldsmith, 1989, p 156, no. 118).
Sir Charles Henry Coote was a colonel in the Queen’s County Militia and M.P. for Queens County from 1821 to 1847 and again from 1852 to 1869. He married Caroline, daughter of John Whaley of Whaley Abbey in 1814 and died in London.  In 1812 Coote purchased an estate and Ballyfin House from William Wellesley-Pole, brother of the Duke of Wellington and employed Sir Richard Morrison and his son Vitriuvius to rebuild the house in neo-classical style.  The house which still stands was completed in 1826.


The Coote Candelabra (1764 - London 1823) Reference: 68330