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Outstanding Silver Beaker by Scottish Silversmiths Donated to National Museums Scotland

Thursday 11 May, 2017

A new piece designed by noted Scottish silversmith Grant McCaig and hand-crafted by Hamilton & Inches has been donated to National Museums Scotland.

A new piece designed by noted Scottish silversmith Grant McCaig and hand-crafted by Hamilton & Inches has been donated to National Museums Scotland.

The Ash Beaker was commissioned jointly by the Scottish Gallery, Hamilton & Inches - Silversmiths to Her Majesty the Queen, and Bonhams International Auctioneers. Only two of the beakers will ever be made: one will benefit the charity It’s Good 2 Give through sale at auction, whilst the other has been donated to National Museums Scotland where it is now on display in the Silver Treasury in the National Museum of Scotland.

The design of the Ash Beaker was inspired by the protective qualities of the ash tree in Gaelic folklore, appropriately so as It’s Good 2 Give’s current project is to build a forest respite retreat for young cancer patients and their families. The Ripple Retreat, which is in the Trossachs near Callendar, will open on Friday 12 May. The retreat has been designed by Tony Kettle, architect of the Falkirk Wheel.

The companion beaker will be auctioned at the It’s Good 2 Give Ball on 25 November 2017. Hosted by broadcast personality, Grant Stott, the ball will be held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.

Grant McCaig’s work is already represented in the National Museum of Scotland in the form of a sterling silver spoon and scoop with driftwood handles, which are on display in the new Art, Design and Fashion galleries which opened last summer. Several heritage items created by Hamilton & Inches have also featured in the National Museums, including the crown for the Lord Lyon of Scotland.

Lyndsay McGill, curator of Early Medieval and Modern Collections at National Museums Scotland, said:

"National Museums Scotland has extensive collections of silver worked in Scotland which go back as far as the Roman period, continuing through the master silversmiths of the 17th and 18th centuries, to the leading makers of the present day. We are delighted to add this fine piece to our contemporary collection."

Lynne McNicoll OBE, Co-Founder and Chair of Its Good 2 Give said:

“We really are delighted to be the beneficiary of the second Ash Beaker, especially as we open our Ripple Retreat this month. An item of such beauty and craftsmanship, we shall ensure it raises a good sum for our charity – I was fortunate enough to spend a wee while watching it being made and am in awe of the skills used.”

Kirsty Sumerling, Assistant Director at The Scottish Gallery said:

“We are delighted to have been involved in this project during our 175th year. Designed by award winning silversmith Grant McCaig and hand-chased at Hamilton and Inches, the Ash Beaker is truly a triumph of skill, design, collaboration and craftsmanship.”

Fiona Hamilton, Silver Specialist, Bonhams Auctioneers said:

“Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers are honoured to be associated with Grant McCaig’s stunning example of modern silver craftsmanship, The Ash Beaker. We at Bonhams are very much aware of the importance that silver played in the social history of Scotland and are delighted that this enchanting piece of contemporary art will be available for future generations to view and appreciate in the distinguished surroundings of its new home - The National Museum of Scotland”

Stephen Paterson, Chief Executive of Hamilton & Inches said:

“Our Master Silversmith, Panos Kirkos, and his son, Paul, hand-chased this beautiful Britannia standard silver Ash Beaker over twenty hours in our workshops in Edinburgh, using time-honoured techniques. It is wonderful to see the piece afforded such a prestigious display, here in the National Museum of Scotland. It is truly a celebration of collaborative excellence in Scottish silverware design, craft, tradition and beauty, and we are especially proud to see its donation in our 150th anniversary year”

Further information and images from: Bruce Blacklaw, National Museums Scotland Press Office on 0131 247 4165 or

Notes to Editors

National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.

The National Museum of Scotland is the most popular museum in the country outside of London (source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions). The National Museum of Scotland was awarded ‘Gold’ Level Green Tourism Visitor Attraction status in 2016.

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. Today, the auction house offers more sales than any of its rivals. While the main salerooms are in London, New York and Hong Kong, Bonhams are the only international auctioneers who have a saleroom in Scotland. Sales are also held in Knightsbridge, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Paris, Stuttgart and in Sydney, Australia. Bonhams also has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of forthcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

Grant McCaig

Scottish Silversmith and Jeweller. He feels that working in silver is inspiring and creative, technical and expressive. Using the traditional techniques of the silversmith as his foundation he builds pieces that explore the relationship between functionality and self-expression. Public Collections include: Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen; National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh; The Goldsmiths’ Company, London; Incorporation of Goldsmiths, Edinburgh; Bute House Collection, Edinburgh; and Birmingham Museums and Art Galleries.

The Scottish Gallery

Established in South St. David Street, Edinburgh by Aitken Dott in 1842 as "Gilders, Framers, and Artists' Colourmen", the firm, as it does today, also exhibited and sold work by the leading Scottish artists of the day. As all areas of the business grew, larger premises were found in Castle Street in 1860 and a new dedicated gallery space was opened in 1897 as "The Scottish Gallery". The gallery has been situated on Dundas Street since 1992. Today, objects are one of the gallery’s strongest identifying features. The Scottish Gallery specialise in national and international contemporary ceramics, glass, jewellery, metalwork, sculpture and textiles. The focus is now entirely exhibition based and provides a window into a much wider world celebrating the decorative, fine arts and design all within one house of art.

Hamilton & Inches

Hamilton & Inches is renowned as one of the UK's leading luxury goods companies. Since 1866 it has maintained its own silver workshops and held a royal warrant as silversmiths to Her Majesty The Queen.

Three floors of workshops are located above the Edwardian grandeur of Hamilton & Inches’ Edinburgh showroom - almost the last of their kind in the UK. It is here that Hamilton & Inches talented team of craftsmen specialise in producing handcrafted pieces using time-honoured techniques.

Over the years Hamilton & Inches' silversmiths have been commissioned to create some spectacular pieces of silver. Past commissions include the Quaich trophy presented at the Scottish Open Golf Championship; a charm bracelet designed by JK Rowling and auctioned for her charities; a mace presented by Her Majesty the Queen to the Lord Justice of Scotland; and The Triple Crown Rugby Trophy presented during the Six Nations Rugby Tournament. 

It’s Good 2 Give

The money raised from the auction of the silver beaker will be donated to It’s Good 2 Give.  The charity, launched in 2010 is committed to raising money to support local young people with cancer and their families.  Their current £1.5m project is a purpose-build respite house, Ripple Retreat; a safe, restful place that families can visit together.  Designed by Tony Kettle, the retreat will be built in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park National Park, nestled on the bank of Loch Venachar.

Header image © Neil Hanna

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