Chinese octagonal famille rose armorial soup plate, c. 1770, decorated in the centre with the arms of Preston of Valleyfield House, Perth, with the badge of a baronet of Nova Scotia in the centre (argent three unicorns' heads erased sable; crest, Out of a ducal coronet a unicorn's head proper; supporters, Two lions gardant or; motto 'Praesto et praestem'), the cavetto with a band of chain decoration, the rim with floral garlands fastened with ribbons
Diameter: 22cm. (8 5/8in.)
Small chip and frits to rim
The arms of Preston were granted in 1637 and this service was probably commissioned by Robert Preston, Captain of the Asia in 1768 and the managing owner of thirty East Indiamen in Canton between 1784 and 1802. After he made his fortune with the East India Company, he became a member of Parliament for Dover (1784-90) and Cirencester (1792-1806). Among his fashionable connections in Edinburgh and London were William Pitt, James Boswell, J.M.W. Turner and Sir Walter Scott, who wrote of Preston that he was 'as big as two men, and eats like three'.
A plate from this same service is illustrated in Howard, 'Chinese Armorial Porcelain', Vol. I, p. 615, pl. S2.