The 'Goldsmiths' Cup' - commissioned for HMS Prince of Wales

To mark the official commissioning of HMS Prince of Wales into the Royal Navy, the Goldsmiths’ Company commissioned Rauni Higson to make a commemorative silver cup

By Dr Dora Thornton, Curator of the Goldsmiths' Company Collection

This week sees the formal presentation of a new Goldsmiths’ Company commission, ‘The Goldsmiths’ Cup’, which commemorates the commissioning of the new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales. The Goldsmiths' Company Charity had already awarded a grant of £100,000 for the improvement of the Warrant Officers’ and Senior Ratings’ Mess. The Cup is intended to benefit the whole of the ship’s Company and will be awarded to one of the Mess Decks or to an individual every year.

We wanted to commission an outstanding Welsh silversmith for this special Cup and were delighted to work with Rauni Higson. She lives in the dramatic landscape of Snowdonia, which she describes ‘as a rich backdrop of mountainous crags and rugged coastline’ that has a strong influence on her work. Her silver is represented in the National Museum of Wales as well as in the Goldsmiths’ Company's own Collection.

'The Goldsmiths' Cup' by Rauni Higson, front view

Rauni is experienced in making formal pieces for display and for dining⁠—such as her 'Mountain Burn' rosewater dish, which she made for the Company in 2015, and the Loving Cup produced more recently for the Clothworkers’ Company. She is particularly known for her chasing and its affinity with water, which also made her an appropriate choice. Her hammer-chased design for the Goldsmiths’ Cup takes the form of a swirling wave with spume at its crest, in contrast to the smooth butler finish of the rest of the bowl.

"I used many custom-shaped hammers to form the wave, including some curved ones I made myself by casting in bronze. The cup can be used alone, with the carved slate base, as a centrepiece, or with both bases, including the beautiful engraving by Angus McFadyen, as more of a trophy.” Rauni Higson

Specialist engraver Angus McFadyen engraved the Cup’s name within the curve of the wave. Rauni has incorporated Welsh slate from a local quarry in the base for the cup, carved by local Inigo Jones Slate Works to flow into the hammer-chased and wave form on the cup itself. The base adds stability and the lower section is set with silver plaques, one of which is engraved with the story of the commission set between the arms of the Company and the arms of the ship. The other three plaques can be detached so that they can be engraved to record future winners of the Cup.  

We worked closely with Rauni and with the ship’s Captain in every aspect of the making of the Cup, which manages to be both classic and contemporary. Its style will work well with old and new silver from other ships with which it will be displayed, and it is made to last. We are delighted to know that it has been warmly welcomed and used in its first week on board, and we hope that it will have a special role to play in the life of the ship for years to come. 

See more of Rauni's work here