The Ellis Catalogues
A reminder that there were two collections

By David Constable

Many spoon enthusiasts are aware of the spoon collections of H.D. Ellis. It is perhaps useful to remind collectors that Sotheby's produced three catalogues of the collections although only two sales took place.

The first sale, on 30th May 1935, was titled: 'Catalogue of the choice series of rare medieval and London Spoons formerly in the celebrated collection of the Late H.D. Ellis Esq. and now the property of Lt. Col. I. Bennett-Stanford'. This sale, comprising fifty-three lots, also contained a few from Col Bennett-Stanford's personal collection.

Later that year Sotheby's produced the catalogue that is most frequently referred to: 'Catalogue of a remarkable collection, of 16th & 17th century Provincial Silver Spoons incorporating practically the entire collection left by the late H.D. Ellis Esq. at his death. The property of Lieut. Col J. Bennett-Stanford'. This sale, scheduled for 13th November 1935 and the following day, never took place due to the economic climate. The entire collection was sold to 'a gentleman' who later sold it en bloc to Lt Col Claude Beddington. He removed sixteen lots1 and put the collection up for sale again on 15th and 16th April 1937.

The preface to the November 1935 catalogue does not appear in the 1937 edition and the note to the effect that Cdr How retained ownership of the copyright, and that he could supply copies of the catalogue priced 10s 6d, was updated. The 1937 catalogue appears to have been a lower-cost production with fewer illustrations. The indices were revamped due to the Changes in the text and the notes were an abridged version with some updates. Seventy-one lots had their descriptions changed: generally more detail was included, such as the name of an apostle or in the description of the marks.

At the 1937 sale the majority of the spoons were sold, the exceptions being lot 63, which was withdrawn and lots 134, 151 and 152, which were unsold. Two hundred and thirty nine lots were sold, totalling 5,227. There were a total of thirty buyers, some of whom are listed below:

BuyerNo. of lots BoughtTotal Value

Interestingly Col Bennett-Stanford bought back two spoons. The lowest price in the sale was 2.l0.0d and the highest price was 115, paid for lot 164 and lot 215.

1. Lots 23a, 25, 58, 100, 162, 167-69, 174, 177, 183, 212 & 223-24.

(This article was first published in The Silver Society Journal, 2002)


The Finial, March/April 2004

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