A Fine Pair of 19thC Cornish Serpentine Tazzas c.1830-50

Origin: English or Possibly Italian
Period: William IV /Early Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1830-50
Dish Diameter: 7.5”
Base Diameter: 3.25”
Height: 5.25”

The very good quality pair of lathe turned Cornish serpentine tazzas, each having a circular bowl with moulded lipped top to turned stems and draught turned bases, surviving from the William IV to early Victorian period.

The condition of the tazzas is relatively good. One of them has a repair to the stem, where it has at some stage become detached from the basin, with now a small hairline visible, please see the photographs for visual reference. Overall, they remain very attractive in their entirety with a lovely patina and aside from some very small nibbles to the lips they are in otherwise good order.

The craftsmanship is high here and to have a pair is a very attractive proposition, with singles being found more often. The proportions and the way they are turned are somewhat reminiscent of turned Ashfield black marble of the 1820-50's.

This desirable type of ‘marble’ is found at Lizard Point in Cornwall, England. This rock is becoming scarce and is only quarried by those who have inherited the "common rights" to a particular source, which is kept a closely guarded secret. Although popularly called a ‘marble’, serpentine is essentially different from any kind of limestone, in that it is a magnesium silicate. The serpentine group are greenish, brownish, or spotted minerals commonly found in serpentinite rocks. They are used as a source of magnesium and asbestos, and as a decorative stone as we see here. The name is thought to come from the greenish color being that of a serpent, with their olive green color and smooth or scaly appearance is the basis of the name from the Latin serpentinus, meaning "serpent rock,” Many types of serpentine have been used for jewellery and hardstone carving, sometimes under the name false jade or Teton jade.

From early in the 19th century local craftsmen became expert in lathe turning this material into useful and decorative items. Following a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1846, when they bought some of these works of art for Osbourne House, and a stand at the Great Exhibition of 1851, this serpentine became popular with this country's aristocracy as well as architects and builders of the time. However, there was competition from Italy.

A desirable pair of tactile, strikingly beautiful pieces, truly, the business.