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Plate, Yongzheng c.1726, with the arms of Tobin of Co. Kilkenny, Ireland

A nine inch plate from a service made for James Tobin (1684-1735) of Kilkenny, who was employed by both the East India Company and the Ostend Company. (Two identical plates available, see also 44109).

This coat of arms was formerly, though very tentatively, identified in the first volume of Chinese Armorial Porcelain as Woodward. However, it has now been correctly identified by Didier Cogels van Reynegom to whom I am most grateful for correspondence and for supplying the manuscript armorial painting image.

See image from the Armorial de la noblesse belge where the arms of Jacques Tobin are blazoned Vert three nettle leaves, two in chief and one in base or [gold], with the crest, A martlet argent between two wings vert and or, and supporters, Two griffins or.

James Tobin, born in Kilkenny about 1684, is first recorded with the East India Company in 1707 as a purser on the Donegal. In 1718 he was engaged by an Ostend syndicate led by financier Paul Jacques Cloots, Baron de Schilde, as captain and first supercargo of the Prince Eugène, a ship sailing from Ostend which visited Canton in the trading season 1718/19 where Tobin was permitted to set up a warehouse and raise the Hapsburg Imperial flag, initiating friendly relations with the Chinese merchants. The ship returned home with a full cargo in July 1719 with the public auction taking place a month later. The tea cargo alone brought in a million florins and the investors doubled their capital, with Tobin also benefitting financially.   A further profitable voyage was undertaken in 1720/21 and on his return the Austrian Emperor Charles VI created him Chevalier (knight) with a coat of arms authorised in 1722 in recognition of his services to the Ostend Company.

While Captain Tobin may well have ordered this service himself through his contacts, it is also possible that it was ordered (or collected) for him by his brother Edmond Tobin, who was 4th Mate on the East Indiaman Prince Augustus on its 1726/27 voyage to Canton.

In his will, headed Sir James Tobin and dated March 1732, Tobin makes a number of bequests to friends in Oporto, Antwerp, Brussels and Ostend as well as giving £200 to the ‘Poor of the City of Kilkenny’.  The residue is left to his nephews James and Edmond, sons of his deceased brother Edmond, in the wish that James, the eldest, be educated "such as is proper for a merchant and when he is of sufficient age he be sent to Cadiz to serve some considerable merchant there."

With dealer label for Charles Perry, Atlanta, Georgia

Reference : Des armoiries de familles belges sur céramiques  by Didier Cogels van Reynegom & Michel Cardon de Lichtbuer

Condition : Very small reverse edge chip filled, otherwise perfect with bright and original gilding and enamels

Size : 9 inches

Stock Number : 44109

Price : £2,900

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