You can find out what we have in the silver, gold and plate collection by searching our online database.
The silver collection comprises of local, civic silver from the 18th to the 20th century, including the presentation ‘freedom boxes’ given to Lady and Viscount Astor in 1959 and 1936 respectively.
Two key pieces of silver in the collection are the Eddystone lighthouse salt and the Drake cup.
The Eddystone lighthouse salt was made by Plymouth silversmith, Peter Rowe in 1698. It was commissioned to commemorate the building of Smeaton’s first lighthouse on the Eddystone reef and is thought to be the only representation of the very first lighthouse before changes were made to the lantern in 1699.
The Drake cup was thought to have been given to Drake by Queen Elizabeth I. It depicts a globe to celebrate his circumnavigation and was made by a Zurich silversmith in around 1595. The cup came off display at Buckland Abbey in early 2019 and is undergoing conservation assessment. Once any necessary work has been undertaken it will be displayed in the ‘100 Journeys’ gallery in The Box when it opens in 2020.
The south west had a thriving silversmith community in the 18th century and an assay office was set up in Exeter in 1700. The museum’s collection is representative of many of these silversmiths and holds examples from makers such as Pentecost Symons, Samuel Blatchford and Zacchariah Williams.
The museum also holds on loan a number of items of church plate from local churches. This includes some of the earliest existing pieces of ecclesiastical silver in the south west by John Jones of Exeter in 1575 who was commissioned to make communion cups after the Reformation in England.