The Leinster Dinner-Service comes under the hammer at The Exceptional Sale at Christie’s in London on July 5. Made for James FitzGerald, 20th Duke of Kildare and later 1st Duke of Leinster (1722-1773) it is the grandest and most complete surviving aristocratic dinner service. It comprises 70 dinner plates, 18 soup plates, 29 dishes, 22 dish covers, 4 candlesticks, 11 salvers, 8 sauceboats and many other pieces
In the 17th century the buffet at the side of the dining room was used to show the host’s wealth through the arrangement of flagons, flasks, cups and dishes. In the 18th century display moved to the dining table itself. The linen covered table was centered on the great epergne or surtout-de-table. The fashion for dining à la Française also called for soup tureens for the first course and a plethora of dishes and covers for the following courses. The French style of dining further created the need for casters, cruets, sauceboats and condiment vases.
The service passed by descent to Edward, 7th Duke of Leinster (1892-1976). It was sold in January 1918 as part of his inheritance to the property magnate Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley, who died in 1937. It was acquired by Walter Chrysler jnr. (1909-1988) and sold at Parke Bernet Galleries, New York in 1960. The Leinster Dinner Service is rare, not only because of its survival but also because its commission is fully listed in the Gentleman’s Ledgers of its maker, the Royal goldsmith George Wickes. It is expected to realise between £1.5 million and £2 million. It is one of 48 lots in a sale with fine examples of furniture, silver, sculpture, clocks and porcelain. The auction is expected to realise more than £13 million
UPDATE: SOLD FOR £1.7 MILLION THE LEINSTER DINNER SERVICE SET A RECORD PRICE FOR ANY ENGLISH SILVER DINNER SERVICE SOLD AT AUCTION. OVERALL THE SALE BROUGHT IN OVER £18 MILLION.