An extremely rare & historic George III Drinking Cup made in Edinburgh in 1804 by McHattie & Fenwick.
The Cup is of an unusually large size and exceptionally thick gauge, which is seen in the images by the thick rim. This piece has slightly baluster sides engraved around the rim with swags of flowers beneath reserves of pellets and lines all linked by small vacant ovals with pendant flower heads below. The front displays a large wreath cartouche of flowers and leaves enclosing the contemporary inscription 'To the Revd. Mr.Thomas Macknight from Mrs Profr.Robison as a Token of Gratitude and Esteem Edinr.Feby.1805.' The slightly concave base displays a crisp set of hallmarks and this piece is in quite exceptionally crisp condition. The quality is outstanding and the engraving has been executed to the highest standards.
As well as its unusual form and weight, this piece has important historical connections with regard to the individuals recorded in the inscription. The Very Reverend Dr. Thomas Macknight was born in 1762 and was a minister who rose to the highest rank as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1820. He was also a gifted Physicist, Mathematician and Geologist. In 1791, he took over the South Leith Church and, in 1804, moved to Trinity College Church between the old town and the new town. In 1799 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1808.
His connection with Robison was certainly in the area of Natural Philosophy (nowadays referred to as Physics)) in which he succeeded Robison as Chairman in early 1805, due to the latter's death on January 30th of that year. Macknight died in 1836.
John Robison was an eminent mechanical philosopher and Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinbugh. He was born in 1739 and it is possible that Macknight studied under him. He served as a midshipman aboard HMS Royal William under Admiral Charles Knowles who took part in general Wolfe's expedition to Quebec. Robison's main task was to be a tutor to Knowles's son Edward on that expedition. One of Robison's more unusual accolades was the testing of John Harrison's Marine Chronometer. Robison was also appointed to the Board of Longitude by Admiral Anson who was First Lord of the Admiralty on account of Robison's mathematical skills. The tests proved that the Chronometer was accurate.
Robison was also on friendly terms with James Watt and worked on an early form of steam car with him. It came to nothing, but Robison did invent the siren. He also went to Russia with his old friend Admiral Knowles to advise the Russians on shipbuilding, a task he undertook with distinction impressing Catherine the Great. With the incorporation of the Royal Society by Royal Charter in 1783 Robison was appointed Secretary. In 1797 he published 'Proofs of Conspiracy' alleging secret intrigue by the 'illuminati' and Freemasons. It would appear that Robison's widow gave the cup to MacKnight very soon after her husband's death.
Height: 3 inches, 7.5cm.
Diameter: 3.6 inches, 9.25cm.