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History: The coffee pot was commissioned by London based trader and fellow Huguenot Sir John Lequesne and tells the story of his flight from France to London
The coffee pot was commissioned by London based trader and fellow Huguenot Sir John Lequesne.
It was arranged by their father that they would lodge with a Spanish merchant in London; the brothers would never see their father again, he died tragically from an illness after having been imprisoned for his beliefs.
The Lequesne brothers prospered; John became free of the Grocers Company and David the Salters Company.
Some enticed customers with tobacco and hookah pipes.
Another favourite was tea, brought all the way from China.
And others also provided sweet treats such as chocolate and sherbets ‘made of lemons, roses and violets perfumed’.
They later set up business together trading with the West Indies. John not only became an Alderman of the City but was also a director of the Bank of England, and was knighted by King George II in 1737.
A successful marriage, bringing a dowry of 20,000, and an equally successful career enabled him to commission this most magnificent of coffee pots from the greatest silversmith of the day.
The coffee pot, inspired by French forms and conceived in the new French Rococo style, speaks of his ancestry.
Its presence in the ownership of a successful merchant epitomises the vibrancy of 18th century trade in London.
The first London coffee house was opened in 1652 by a member the English Levant company which traded with Turkey.
Pasqua Rose had served in Smyrna (now Izmir) and had acquired a taste for the dark stimulant drink.
Coffees many virtues, both real and imagined, were extolled by printed handbills; they also warned of a sleepless night if consumed too late.
Each coffee house had its own particular clientele, some were literary, some political, others concerned with shipping and others finance.
From the coffee house came the Gentlemans Clubs and City institutions such as the insurance market Lloyds of London.
These unofficial meeting places were disapproved of by the establishment; King Charles II tried to censure them in 1675 to no avail.
A coffee shop engraving from the late 17th century. The term ‘coffee house politician’ later came to refer to someone who spent all hours pontificating about matters of high state and sharing them with anyone who cared to listen