The Breadalbane bread basket, from the castle home of John Campbell, 4th Earl and 1st Marquess of Breadalbane, is thought to have been made around 1760.
It is recorded that in 1842, Queen Victoria visited Taymouth Castle in Highland Perthshire where she declared the interior decor “the wealthiest in the world”. She specifically praised the Marquess of Breadalbane coronet engraved sterling and recalls being served a batch of freshly-baked oatcakes – which the sellers suggest she was likely to have been served in the bread basket.
Dealer John Cook, from Seattle, said he bought the piece for $150 in an antique shop in the US last year, believing it was silver-plated.
“After a few days, I kept looking at it and I thought it was strange,” he said. “I had never seen anything like it before. When I cleaned it up, I realised it was solid silver.”
Cook said the grains embossed into the silver suggested it was specifically a basket used for oatcakes, which were a staple food of the clans in the 1700s.
He said: “A ‘cake basket’ was the largest and most prestigious piece of an 18th century table setting
“It was a conversation piece and as such, this bug-adorned basket does not disappoint.
“King William IV and John Campbell IV were friends and William crowned John, ‘1st Marquess of Breadalbane’ on the very same day he himself was crowned King of England. William and John’s 1831 coronations and this basket’s engraving coincides with the lavish 1830s reconstructions of Buckingham Palace and Taymouth Castle that turned them into the grandiose structures we see today,” Cook added.