Kevin Coates (born 1950)

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‘Amity’ Cup


Sterling silver, parcel-gilt, burnished and part oxidised, baroque pearl, the upper and lower hollow sections reverse electroformed by BJS Electroplating Company Ltd., two modelled and lost-wax cast and parcel-gilt creatures. Height 14.7 cm, width 10.9 cm. Marked: Kevin Coates, London. A circle inside the base of the upper bowl is inscribed ‘Commissioned by R.Y. Goodden Prime Warden 1976–77’, artist’s signature on small circle inside base.

The cup was commissioned by Professor R.A. Goodden as an emblem of the Amity, the ancient friendship between the Goldsmiths’ Company and the Fishmongers’ Company, to be used at their annual Amity Dinner. The imagery is based on a speech he gave at the Amity Dinner on 28 April 1976. The cup is made in two pieces, with two stems rather than one, which are supported on the tails of the creatures representing the crests of the two companies—the leopard and the luce, or Northern pike. They form a ring within which is exchanged “the pearl beyond price”, the gift of friendship. Professor Goodden wanted the same imagery featured on his portrait medal as Prime Warden by Avril Vaughan, which shows on its reverse a scene of pearl fishing surrounded by a wreath of pike biting each other’s tails [see below]. 

Coates, a goldsmith in the Renaissance tradition, recalls that he was inspired by studying the exoskeleton of a sea urchin which gave rise to the 5/10 part divisions, as seen in his notebook sketches and in the exquisite design drawing. “I was intrigued by some early 20th-century mathematical models and how the cup form (rather like Wren’s spurious St. Paul’s dome solution) could differ on the inside from what was happening on the outside.” Coates had been taught at the Royal College of Art by Professor Goodden and says of him: “Robert (who had been, for me, one of those special teachers, who remain in your psyche) was a dream subject, always excited by what I was thinking, and had that encouraging gift of genuine enthusiasm.”


As a goldsmith working in the Renaissance tradition, geometry and architecture are enduring themes in the work of Kevin Coates. He enjoys the challenges of scale that a monumental brooch design presents; as seen on his ‘Serlio Doorcase’ brooch from 1983:

Men & Brooches: A Voyage around Kevin Coates, see here.

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