A unusual silver vase modelled as a leather black jack

Price range: £5-10,000

A London Britannia standard silver vase, dated 1890, the design taken from a rare leather bottle (“black jack”) from the 18th century. Marked George Gilliam, over stamping actual maker Edwin Charles Purdie. The avant garde appearance of this bottle may be deliberate, but is more likely to be a chance consequence of the design. Intriguingly the 18th century leather bottle on which the design is based is recorded in a 1920’s book on Black Jacks that was written by Oliver Baker – one of Liberty’s early designers for the Cymric silver range and whose work is featured significantly in the Collection.

Maker: Edwin Charles Purdie
Designer: Unknown, copies a rare “Black Jack” leather bottle
Date : 1890
Marks: ECP overstamped GG, London, date letter “p”
Material: Brittania silver (950/1000)
Condition: Excellent, some minor scratches and dents commensurate with age.
Size: 22.5cm high, 12cm wide, 8cm deep
Weight : 897 grams, 31.6 oz

SKU: A3 Category:


George Gilliam was an upmarket London retailer who is known to have commissioned pieces from the less well known silversmith Edwin Charles Purdie. Few pieces are known by Purdie though he seems to have produced one or two other special pieces based on auction records.

From Oliver Baker’s book “Black Jacks and Leather Bottells” illustrated on page 49 is a “rare” bottle very like the silver version above. The illustration is of a leather bottle once held at the Leather Bottle Inn in Wandsworth, which remains open today. Baker writes  “This kind of bottle is decidedly rare and I only know of three others, one in the museum at Glastonbury, and another in the old castle at Taunton. The third is in my own collection… “