The First Argyll
In the 18th Century the argyll also spelled ‘argyle’ was famously named after, and crafted in honour of the fifth Duke of Argyll, John Campbell and his wife, Elizabeth Gunning, Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon. Throughout winter, the Duke lamented the fact that his gravy became freezing cold on its way from the kitchen to the dining table. So in order to prevent this, the argyle was created.
Evolution of the Argyle
The earliest prototypes had an internal compartment that could be heated up with an iron rod which kept the contents (typically gravy) warm.
Gradually different shapes, styles, and sizes of argyll were crafted. There were a few different adaptations. With each adaptation the heating system improved. It gradually changed from the rod technique to an internal double-walled chamber that could be filled with hot water.
Argylls are made in a variety of shapes and sizes, but typically most have a rounded, curved body, and a small foot to the bottom. Typically the spout is placed closed to the bottom of the Argyll. This allowed the gravy to be drawn from underneath the layer of fat that settled on top.
Perhaps it’s because of the shape of the Argyll, but many people bought argylls without knowing what their use was. Some people assumed that they were tea or coffee pots and attempted to use them for that purpose. One person described the Argyll as a ‘curious little water warmed coffee pot’ (Clark, 1926).
However, later they began to be sold as individual coffee pots. The argyll’s dual usage makes it quite a practical piece of silverware.
The Argyll is a very rare piece of silverware. Scottish argylls are particularly rare, with only a few known to exist.
Here at AC Silver, we have a selection of argylls (or argyles) on offer. This antique George III English sterling silver argyle has a plain cylindrical form embellished with a contemporary engraved crest. This exceptional example of Georgian silverware is fitted with a domed push fit cover surmounted with a silver ball style finial.