A rare treasure from one of the most tumultuous periods in Scottish history is expected to sell for more than £10,000 when it comes up for auction later this month.
The drinking glass, which is said to have been used by Bonnie Prince Charlie as he raised his army, has been described as an “iconic” item which not only provides a direct link with Charles Edward Stuart, but his rank and file supporters.
Compared to other glassware from the 18th century, the Bruce of Cowden ‘Amen’ glass is relatively plain. There is no elaborate decoration on its tapered stem or large drawn trumpet bowl, used to consume wine.
But the base on which it is mounted – a stepped dome silver foot – offers an insight into how ordinary craftsmen rallied to the Jacobite cause.
According to the history of the Bruce family, from Comrie, the glass was originally broken after Charles drank from it during a toast. Such a custom ensured no lesser toast could be given from the vessel, but because of the item’s importance, William Bruce decided to send it for repair.
What would be a routine task nowadays was fraught with danger during Charles’s lifetime, with the owner at risk of being found guilty of treason should he pass it into the wrong hands.
Bruce entrusted it to Patrick Murray, a goldsmith from Stirling, part of a handful of loyal Jacobite craftsmen. He later joined Lord George Murray’s brigade only to be captured and executed for his part in the rebellion.
The so-called ‘Amen’ glass, however, is part of his small legacy, which includes two pairs of Hanoverian pattern tablespoons and a pair of sugar tongs. The glass, the foot of which is engraved with the toast ‘God Blis King James the Eight’, is regarded as the finest example of Murray’s work.
A spokesman for the auction house Lyon & Turnbull, which has listed the glass with an estimate of £8,000 to £12,000, said: “This iconic glass not only connects the story of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Jacobites and the art they left behind, but crosses into the lives of ordinary supporters who would in the end pay the ultimate price for their support of the Jacobite cause.
“The engraving to the lobes of the foot is a regularly recorded Jacobite toast and undoubtedly the toast which the glass gave. It is also very similar in wording to the Jacobite national anthem immortalised on the fabled ‘Amen’ glasses.”
The glass forms part of Lyon & Turnbull’s Scottish silver and applied arts sale on 16 August.