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The Acton toilet service

Silver, wood, glass and bristle

Origin: London

Date: 1699-1700

Marks/Maker: London, Britannia standard, 1699-1700, maker's mark of Isaac Dighton, stamped with individual inventory numbers from 625 to 638

Heraldry: Arms of Acton impaling Walter for Sir Edward Acton, (c.1650-1716), who married Mary Walter.

Provenance: Sir Edward Acton, (d.1716); Walter Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne; by descent to Bryan, 2nd Baron Moyne (d.1992)

Accepted by H.M. Government in lieu of inheritance tax on the estate of Bryan, 2nd Baron Moyne (1905-92) and allocated to the Ashmolean; WA2006.22.1-14

T. Schroder (2009), no. 206

During the latter part of the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth century the silver dressing table or toilet service was one of the most fashionable luxury accessories of the aristocracy. (The word 'toilet' derives from the French name for costly fabric - la toile - that would have been attached to the mirror and drawn across the dressing table to cover the service.) Such services were extremely costly and gradually grew in size as a wider range of cosmetics became available. However, by the mid-eighteenth century it was increasingly regarded as an affectation and can be seen featured in Hogarth's satirical series of engravings of the 1740s, Marriage a la Mode. This service, comprising fourteen pieces, is of average size and represents the standard design in fashion during the 1690s and first decade of the eighteenth century.

Information derived from T. Schroder, British and Continental Gold and Silver in the Ashmolean (2009)