Thursday, 23 June 2011


On Thursday evening Alastair Ross and I went to Pewterers' Hall for their Master and Wardens Dinner.  The company is still linked with the pewter trade and for more details go to  They occupy a charming Hall, rebuilt after the Blitz, on a site between London Wall and Cheapside.  For more details of the Company go to

I was made most welcome by the Master, Professor John Donaldson, and other members of the Company.  As with so many meetings with fellow livery companies it revives memories.  My maternal grandfather, Harry Willis, was an inveterate collector.  Starting in the 1920s and for some decades thereafter he pursued what were then regarded as highly esoteric interests.  These principally were English brass church furnishings, such as candlesticks, from the late medieval and early modern periods, and pewter from the sixteenth and seventeenth century. 

I can remember, as a teenager, his interest in makers' marks where I think he was considered one of the leading amateur experts.  He would recount at length long passed visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum to discuss newly discovered marks with the curators.  At the time the regularly repeated stories seemed a little tedious but they clearly made a long term impression as I now wish I had listened more carefully.

Back to the present a most enjoyable evening at which I was presented with a beautifully made Pewterers' quaich - the traditional Scottish friendship cup - with the design of the vessel including handles using the seahorse supporters from the Company's arms.  It is one of a limited edition produced for the current Master and designed by Pewterer liveryman Nigel Israel. 

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