Guest post: The Welfen royals



“At first, only the words ‘castle kitchen’ caught my attention.”

VFC says: This guest post was written and photographed by reader Martin with some research contributions from me.

A friend recently drew my attention to an offer of three copper pots with lids, which were supposed to come from the palace kitchens of the noble dynasty of the Welfs, specifically from the Marienburg and other castles of the Elector of Hanover. At first, only the words “castle kitchen” caught my attention. Contrary to my usual habit, I did not consult the seller, but contented myself with the photos and the description of the advertisement. As it turned out later, the description was not entirely correct. So I only kept the lids, the rest was taken back by the seller without any problems.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

Two lids have stamps that clearly identify them as specimens from the court kitchens of the Elector of Hanover. The heavier of the two, stamped “N.30” is stamped with two slightly different crowns and thus indicates more extensive royal possessions. Both lids are additionally stamped with the capital letters EP. The writing is very old and small, serif-style with finely worked additional decorations. Numbers are also stamped, with the larger lid “N.24.” and for the smaller lid “N.30.” These numbers should correspond to the usual inventory numbering of a large kitchen. [VFC says: It’s interesting that the smaller lid has the larger number!]

The “N.30” lid

The “30” lid has a diameter that fits a 17.5cm pot. This measure, which is unusual for mainland Europe, happens to have one of my little sauté pans for which I had not yet found a lid. Great! However, the weight of this small lid is even more extraordinary: 771g (1.7 lbs). Even my 22cm lid with a similar short handle on the side weighs significantly less at 655g (1.4 lbs).

How did the coppersmith manage to make the edge of this nested cover from a very thick material so cleanly? Then I had the idea that the lid was put together from two discs, as is known from the particularly thick bottoms of some old pots, whereby the edge of the upper disc received the necessary shape and the slightly smaller lower disc was soldered on. The connection point is not visible because the cover was then tinned.

I put the three lids one behind the other so that you can see the different depths quite well. The “30” lid is the one on the right.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

The well-known circle point in the middle of the lid, which is visible not only on the top but also on the underside of the lid, also indicates this production. It should have been like that.


This lid is stamped for its owner, its identifying number for the kitchen, and its maker.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

In the upper area is a crown stamp (impressed twice), a cypher, and the letters EP. (The EP likely stands for elector princeps — more on this history below.) The cypher is composed of the letters EAR for Ernestus Augustus Rex, suggesting that this piece was stamped for the household of Ernst August of Hanover who reigned from 1837 to 1851. Compare the stamp’s design to the cypher on this Hanoverian penny coin dated 1842 during Ernst August’s reign.


Below the royal crown and cypher, underneath the “N.30” stamp, is the maker’s mark: FL Paulman Hannover. The final letter “N” in Paulman has a horizontal line over it, which is the archaic notation for a double NN. The smith’s full name is Friedrich Ludwig Paulmann.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

Friedrich Ludwig Paulmann (born June 23, 1806) was a German court coppersmith and copper goods manufacturer. He was born during the personal union between Great Britain and Hanover in the Electorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg during the so-called “French era.”

After training as a coppersmith, he acquired his master’s degree and was soon a sought-after specialist in the royal seat of the Kingdom of Hanover. At the beginning of industrialization, the trade association for the Kingdom of Hanover in 1835 selected the master coppersmith and independent copper goods manufacturer as an expert in his field for the assessment of exhibits at the trade exhibitions of the kingdom.

On January 5, 1837, the entrepreneur, who was soon able to trade under the title of court coppersmith, became a lodge brother of the Johannis Masonic lodge Zum Schwarzen Bär in the Orient of Hanover. Less than two decades later, the coppersmith Julius Louis Paulmann (born May 27, 1836) was accepted into the lodge on April 1, 1856.

In the meantime, the royal family of Hanover, the Welfs, acquired hand-made pieces with the manufacturer’s brand “Paulmann Hanover,” especially for the kitchen equipment in their estates. For example a kettle with the letters “S.R.K” stamped on it for “Schloss Residenz Küche” and “N. 2.” Another work of art by Paulmann called “red gold” for the Welfenhaus was stamped with a ligated monogram with a royal crown and the letters “R. B.” for the Braunschweig Residence and also bears the number “9.”

Source: Wikipedia

The rex stamp of Ernst August and F. L. Paulmann’s maker’s mark suggest that this piece was made sometime between 1837 and 1851.

The “N.24” lid

This lid was stamped with two crowns, whereby the second crown was stamped over the other crown and is almost no longer visible today.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

The deep EAR cypher and “N.24” are of the same series as the N.30 lid above, and mark this piece to the era of Ernst August of Hanover. The more faint crown stamped above the cypher GKF. This is possibly Georg Karl Friedrich, referring to Georg Friedrich Alexander Karl Ernst August — better known as George V, son of Ernst August and the last king of Hanover. Georg V was born in 1819, ascended the throne on his father’s death in 1851, and reigned until he was deposed in 1866.


Based on these stamps, the N.24 lid likely entered service during the reign of Ernst August (1837-1851) and continued in the royal household under George V until 1866. Though this lid does not have a maker’s mark, the handle baseplate is identical to that on the N.30 lid and it seems reasonable to assume it is also the work of Paulmann.

The Knight

The lightest is the lid that I named “the Knight.” It weighs only 312g (0.7 lbs) and fits pans with a diameter of 19-20cm (7.5-7.9 inches). After all, the weight corresponds to a modern lid of this size.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

I called him the Knight because he doesn’t wear any nobility insignia. After all, it is stamped with 3 letters: P E and below in the middle I. They are letters with serifs.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

As far as I know, knights are near to the bottom of the aristocratic hierarchy and had to take the fall for their masters and go to war. At least the edge of the lid looks correspondingly taken along. Which is pretty wavy. The tinning on the underside is also not very carefully applied and shows a few small hills.


This lid also appears to be marked on the top and bottom of the lid. In fact, it’s a tiny hole. The compass point was set on the underside. Due to the relatively thin copper, the tip went too deep and pierced the copper. The Knight was hit with a lance early on — fortunately, this did not result in any serious injury.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

The rest of the design reveals it at least as a relative of the other two lids. One can assume that it was intended for less demanding tasks in a castle kitchen. Such hierarchies are also known at manufacturers such as Gaillard, Dehillerin, and Mauviel, who offered different material thicknesses for different needs.

All 3 lids have short handles on the sides, which I really appreciate because they heat up less quickly and take up a little less space than longer handles. These handles are likely to have been forged. After a restoration by the previous owner, they were coated with a fire-resistant metal paint. The handles were fastened with copper rivets, which are flattened on the outside and are flush with the inner wall.


I did a long research and dealt with the old noble family of the Welfen (Guelphs) with their countless cross-connections across Europe. Especially since their origin lies in the region in which I live. Although I am a staunch democrat, the preoccupation with the history of the nobility was still very interesting. Don’t worry, I’ll be satisfied with a few essential facts from the past 300 years. The original headquarters of the Welfen around the year 1000 was in southern Germany. In the 16th century however, northern Germany and the region around Hanover was the area they ruled.

The Welfs now belonged to the high nobility and carried the nobility title “Elector.” In the Holy Roman Empire (Heilige Römische Reich), an Elector was one of the high nobility who was entitled to elect a king or emperor and they could be elected king by their peers themselves. Electors carried different titles of nobility (king, duke, archbishop, count, margrave, and palatine). In contrast to today’s usage, the title of Elector did not refer to the ruled territory, but to the empire. Whereby kings did not always rule over huge areas in earlier times.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

The Kingdom of the Electors of Braunschweig-Lüneburg and Hanover was a relatively small region too, but when Georg Ludwig von Braunschweig-Lüneburg was elected King of Great Britain as Georg I in 1714, the time of “personal union” with the German headquarters of the Welfen in the Hanover region began. So George I was ruler of two kingdoms.

Guest post: The Welfen royals

This remained with other rulers on the British throne until 1901, although the personal union with the northern German territories had already been dissolved in 1837. The famous Queen Victoria also had her roots in the noble family of the Welfen/Guelphs. In the following years these roots were partially cut and replaced by the House of Windsor. The Welfen/Guelphs were, however, represented in most royal houses in Europe through clever marriage arrangements.


But now really to letters. As I said before, an elector is fundamentally entitled to royal dignity. However, he must be elected king by his peers. An elector is also called in English “Electoral Prince” (Latin: princeps elector), EP for short. The Knight bears the same letters on the upper line, but in reverse order, ie PE. I am not sure what they mean. Is it the abbreviation of Princeps Elector in Latin spelling? A pretty daring guess! I haven’t found an explanation for the letter either.

Guest post: The Welfen royals
Marienburg Castle

According to the seller, the lids were bought at an auction in Marienburg Castle in 2005. At that time, the treasures of the kitchens of various Welfen/Guelph castles came up for sale, but especially works of art of great value. The aristocratic family earned a whopping 44 million euros with the sale of 20,000 objects, according to media reports, minus a commission to the auction house Sotheby’s, up to €37 million are said to have remained with the Welfen/Guelphs. This auction was highly controversial, as many objects could not be purchased by museums and the proceeds did not benefit the German state. But representatives of a small copper museum in Bavaria also took part in this auction and were able to acquire beautiful copper pans and moulds for their museum.

The Welf family still exists today. Their current leader of the “Welfenclan” is Ernst August Prince of Hanover, born 1954 and married to Caroline of Monaco in 1999.


VFC says: You may have noticed that the lids have multiple stamps on them. Martin and I have been working to interpret them but we cannot agree on their meaning! We would like to throw these questions out to you, our readers. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Mystery 1: Why two crown stamps on the N. 30 lid?

Guest post: The Welfen royalsYou will have noticed that the crown and cypher on the N.30 lid is stamped twice. The EAR cypher looks the same for both stamps, but the crowns are of different design. The crown on the left is open at the top, while the crown on the right is dome-shaped; the horizontal band is different on each crown as well. These are two different stamps and two different crowns.

What could this mean? With the EAR cypher — Ernestus Augustus rex — both crowns should be for the rank of King. Compare them to the examples on the heraldic crowns page. The crown on the right looks somewhat like the crown of an Elector in the Holy Roman Empire — appropriate for the family, though obsolete after 1806. Could the crown on the left be a later stamp, replacing the Holy Roman Empire Elector crown with one of a more modern Hanoverian design?

Mystery 2: What are the other letters and numbers on the N.30 lid?

Guest post: The Welfen royalsThe discussion above focuses on the most prominent stamps on the N.30 lid, but there are other stamps that have been nearly polished out. Take a look at the stamped area again, but this time please focus on the faint marks. What letters do you see?

We see a P and R, and there are likely other letters partially obscured. As the Wikipedia entry for F. L. Paulmann notes, royal Hanoverian copper cookware was stamped for a specific location. Here is a list (in German) of German castles and palaces in Lower Saxony, roughly corresponding to the former Kingdom of Hanover. (It’s more detailed than the corresponding list in English.) Do you see any possibilities there?

Mystery 3: What are the other letters and numbers on the N.24 lid?

Guest post: The Welfen royalsLike the N.30 lid, the N.24 lid also has additional faint markings that have been almost obliterated. Again, take a good look at the stamp area and see if you can identify the letters and numbers.

We saw a possible “N.12” as well as the letters A, I, and C. The different numbering system suggests the lid was transferred from one kitchen to another, where it was reassigned the number 24. But which kitchens? Can you spot any good candidates in the Lower Saxony castles list for the initials A, I, and/or C?

Please let us know in the comments what letters you see, and what you think they might signify. Thank you in advance for your contributions to this research project!

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  1. Thank you Martin for the detailed photographs and drawings and the informative research on these wonderful lids. Fantastic!

  2. VFC and I put a lot of work into this post. As for myself, I can say that I’ve never researched so intensively in the field of kitchen copper. Probably all of us just want to know something about the coppersmith first. In this case it was relatively easy because there was only one information about Paulmann Hannover on the Internet. In this case it was particularly important to me to find out more about the historical and social background of the lids.

    Mystery 1 (lid N.30):
    It was not easy to depict the details of the stamps photographically, especially since z. B. the “double crowns” on lid N.30 are only about 1.5cm² (0.6×0.6″). Even a good photo cannot replace the original in all its facets. So today I came to a new assumption. You can’t see in my photo of the crowns stamped close together that the stamp of the left crown is slightly weaker and less deep. It looks a bit faded in the original when the light falls at an angle. The ciphers under the crowns also differ in minute details. I therefore assume that this stamp with the open crown, which I define as the crown of a duke, elector or crown prince and specifically associate with Georg Karl Friedrich, was first impressed. This is confirmed by the fact that the lines of the right stamp intersect or overlap the lines of the left stamp. If you look very closely you should be able to see it. The right crown stands for an even higher rank, i.e. for royal dignity.

    I conclude that the lid received the second stamp to represent the appointment of Crown Prince Georg Karl Friedrich as King George V. of Hanover in 1845. Even if both stamps were set in the same epoch, but possibly with a certain time difference, the right stamp with the royal crown dominates on closer inspection. It should not be forgotten that even after receiving the royal dignity, the title duke (and many more) remained valid.

    Conclusion: In my opinion, the sequence of the crown stamps on both lids N.24 and N.30 represents the historical development of Crown Prince and Duke Georg Karl Friedrich to King George V. In particular on lid N.24, the different times and occasions of the stamps are very clear.

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