Tankard engraved with scenes depicting the Fire of London and the Great Plague
I N (British, mid-late 17th century)
Overall (confirmed): 7 1/2 x 9 1/4 x 6 in., 37 oz. 13 dwt. (19.1 x 23.5 x 15.2 cm, 1.171kg)
Gift of Mrs. Henry S. Morgan, 1986
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 510
The tankard form evolved from earlier, more rounded juglike drinking vessels for one person. The large tankard illustrated here presumably served more than one person. It commemorates a London magistrate, Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey (1621–1678), for exemplary conduct during the great plague and fire that struck London in 1665–66. For his actions, Godfrey was knighted by Charles II and given an immense silver vase of 800 ounces. He was murdered on Hampstead Heath in 1678, shortly after receiving the first anti-Catholic depositions in the Popish Plot; the culprits were never identified, although contemporary opinion blamed Godfrey's political enemies.
The sides of the tankard are engraved with scenes of the plague and fire, Latin inscriptions describing Godfrey's conduct during the crises and the king's gratitude, and the arms of both men. The tankard is one of six, all inscribed "ex. Dono E. BG" and made by two different makers in two different years: 1673–74 by the Master I.N.—this example—and 1674–75. Although all the tankards were made before Godfrey's death, it is likely that they were given to friends in his memory by his brother, and that tankards in stock at a retailer were purchased with funds left in his will for such gifts, as was a common practice.
Inscription: Engraved above above cartouche of plague scene: (left of arms), Ex Dono E: BG: Militis/ Irenarchae Seduli, Intergerimi; /quem/ post Egregiam in fugandâ peste praestitam operam/ Carolus Secundus Semper Augustus/ Assensu Procerum a Secretis Conciliis/ In Perpetuam tantae pietatis memoriam/ Agenteo donavit Oenophoro, et vere Regio/ Hoc Ampliore modo insignito/ (Given by E.B.G. gentleman (Edmund Berry Godfrey) a careful and trustworthy Justice of the Peace. His Majesty Charles II gave him a silver flagon with the assent of his Privy Council in perpetual recognition of his faithfulness to duty and the outstanding and practical measures he took to mitigate the plague)
Engraved below cartouche of plague scene: (left of arms), Gratia Dei et Regis Caroli Secundi/ pestis sibi salus/ E: BG: 1665 (By the Grace of God and King Charles II. What was a plague to others, to him was wealth. E.B.G. 1665)
Engraved above cartouche of fire of London scene: (right of arms), vir revera Reipublicae Natus,/ Cum urbem Imanis vastabat Ignis,/ Dei Providentiâ et virtute suâ/ Flamarum Medio, Tutus, et Illustris/
Engraved below cartouche of fire of London scene: (right of arms), Deinde Cogente Rege/ (At Merito) Emicuit Eques Auratus/ E: BG: 7bris 1666/ Caetera Loquentur Pauperes et Trivia.
Marking:  IN, (or NI) pellet between, mullet below in heart-shaped punch;  Leopard's head crowned;  Lion passant guardant;  S (date letter for London 1675–76);
Location of marks: – across top of lid and under lip to right of handle;  on the handle
J. Pierpont Morgan ; J. P. Morgan Jr. ; Mrs. Henry S. Morgan (until 1986; to MMA)