Fortunately it has long been the custom to engrave silver with armorials and inscriptions, and because of the inherent value of the material, it is usually recorded in household inventories and accounts of the wealthier households and institutions.

To be able to trace the history of an object through armorials, find a portrait of the owner, visit his or her house, read their letters and diaries, and trace their possessions in their archives – to be able to visualise where and how their epergne, teapot or snuffbox, was used – is a fascinating pursuit. And rarely, oh so rarely, there exists a painting showing an owner with a piece of plate that survives today.

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