2 Victorian silver dishes by Frederick Elkington, Birmingham 1880, parcel gilt, finely They are chased and embossed with medallions of the 12 months and the 12 astrological constellations with each dish having 6 of each symbol; 53cm, 2440gms & 2450gms;
A Rosewater dish is a ceremonial platter or basin used after eating to catch rosewater poured from warm or cold ewers over the hands to wash them, which was a daily ceremony in England. Later, such dishes were used for display only. A salver (Latin salva, save from risk) was originally used by food tasters who tested food for poison. A rosewater dish was considered a salver by extension. These dishes were made of pewter, silver, or gold.
The Enderlein Charger
The 1st pewter dish, (sometimes called a charger because it is more than 18 inches in diameter, ) was cast by Caspar Enderlein of Nuremberg in 1611. It is decorated with figures from classical mythology. The central boss depicts the figure of Sophrosyne (not Venus), the personification of temperance and moderation, seated on a chest with a lamp in her right hand and a jug in her left, with various attributes such as a sickle, fork and caduceus around her. The four reserves on the boss of the dish each contain a classical god, together with elements. The reserves around the rim show Minerva presiding over the seven liberal arts: astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, rhetoric, dialectic and grammar, each with relevant attribute. The rim of the salver has an ovolo moulding. The remainder of the surface is decorated with gilt renaissance strapwork and foliate motifs in relief against a rigid silver ground.
The Rosewater Dish
The Rosewater Dish, sometimes called the Venus Rosewater Dish, is a partly gilded sterling silver copy of the pewter charger and was made by Elkington of Birmingham in 1864. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, commonly referred to as Wimbledon Tennis Club) bought the silver salver for 50 guineas as the trophy for the new ladies’ championship in 1886. Each year, the ladies’ champion receives a miniature version of the salver to keep.
The Victoria &Albert Museum owns a piece known as the Temperantia Basin made by Francois Briot around 1585. It would seem that the Enderlein chargers were based on this earlier basin by Briot. The V&A website explains that the Enderlein chargers “were not cast from an original but were made from moulds cut as line-for-line copies of the Briot dish”. There are also ceramic copies of the Temperantia Basin, one of which is in the Louvre.
Briot made another, very similar, charger, known as the Mars dish, which is in the Louvre. According to the V&A website, it is Briot’s Mars dish which is the basis of the Rosewater Dish rather than the Enderlein Charger. The design on the Enderlein Charger is so similar to that on the Rosewater Dish, both can be considered copies of one of Briot’s original dishes.