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Great Silversmiths

Bateman, Hester (1708 – 1794)

Hester Bateman is the most famous 18th-century English female silversmith. She is so renowned that pieces made by her can double and sometimes even triple the actual price of a piece. Many believe this is because she was a female silversmith and although there were other female silversmiths around at that time, none of them can compare to her. She is recognized as the most foremost silversmith with her delicate craftsmanship, elegant simplicity, and beaded edges which were characteristics of her work. As a result of this workmanship, she has accumulated a huge following, especially with American collectors.

Hester was born in 1708 and was baptized in London on October 7th, 1708, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Nedem. On May 20th, 1732 she married John Bateman in central London and they worked together in his small silversmith business. It is believed that John never held a formal apprenticeship and therefore he often contracted out many pieces to other talented craftsmen. Thus, many pieces were not attributed to him. During their marriage, she gave birth to six children: John Joseph, Letitia, Ann, Peter, William, and Jonathan. Their sons, Peter and Jonathan, wanted to follow in their parent’s footsteps and they both did after completing their silversmith apprenticeships. On November 13th, 1760, John Bateman died of tuberculosis. He entrusted Hester with his small workshop practice.

A year later, in 1761, she took over the family business, registering her now-famous mark (HB) at the Goldsmith’s Hall in London. Initially, she was assisted by her two sons, Jonathan and Peter, and an apprentice. Until 1774 there were few pieces of Hester Bateman available as much of her work may have been attributed to others and/or obliterated.

By the mid-1770’s Hester’s work had become much more widely recognized and therefore she was very successful. Her shop became quite well known specializing in tableware. This consisted of sugar bowls, salvers, salt cellars, coffee pots, and teapots. Energetic and shrewd in business, she also possessed exceptional skill and taste. Working with graceful refined shapes, she predominately used restrained decoration, most often in the form of bright-cut engraving, piercing, and as noted beaded edges.

After her retirement in 1790, the business was continued by other members of the family, who also produced outstanding silver. She died on September 16th, 1794 when she was living in the Parish of St. Andrew.

Hester Bateman is considered one of the finest English silversmiths and her pieces are revered all over the world with many collectors. Even though there were other female silversmiths working in England at this time, she was by far the most successful of them all.

Articles by Hester Bateman

George III Antique English Silver Sugar Basket

George III Antique English Silver Teapot

Cartier (1847 to Present)

Cartier was founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier and since its inception, has epitomized exceptional jewels as well as innovative and original ideas. Despite immense uncertainty and unrest during the ongoing French Revolution, Cartier continued to see success and growth into the next decade, opening the first Cartier boutique in 1859. Unafraid to play with abstract shapes, geometric forms, and unique color pairings, the firm quickly moved with the times and embraced movements such as neo-classicalism, art deco and modernism.

Known for pushing the boundaries of design and innovation, Cartier has always tried to be thinking ahead of the times. In the early 1900s, even before the Art Deco style emerged, Cartier began the figurative designs of Art Nouveau with abstract shapes and geometric motifs. They were the first firm to make jewelry out of platinum. During the roaring 1920s, Cartier became very involved in Art Deco grandeur, with designs that often incorporated Asian and Egyptian themes. Botanical and fruit designs took their cue from the Islamic flower motifs of the Mughal Empire which were Indian stone carving techniques with French platinum and diamond settings. These joyful, colorful jewels would eventually be known as “Tutti Frutti” and are in high demand today.

Cartier is a luxury brand famous not only for their exceptional jewelry, but also for their extensive collection of silver and gold personal luxury items. Many of the silver and gold items that were created for Cartier were smaller pieces which were for personal use, such as compact mirrors, smoking accessories, and note holders. Cartier not only stocked a variety of luxury goods and homewares such as tableware and serving items, but also offered timepieces, clocks and silver woven baskets.

Cartier silver was usually made by silversmiths outside of the company for large scale commissions, or individually skilled artisan makers who were able to live up to the brands reputation for both style and quality. Cartier began using retailer’s marks on their silver in the 1860s. The business continued to grow, and Cartier’s success in the early twentieth century meant that the firm found themselves commissioning larger amounts and variations of jewelry, as well as silver and gold items.

Crespin, Paul (1694 – 1770)

Paul Crespin was one of the most influential Huguenot silversmiths working in England during the reign of George 11. He was born and raised in England by a family of Huguenot refugees from France. Paul apprenticed to Jean Pons in 1713 and his first maker’s marks were entered at Goldsmiths Hall between 1720 and 1721. His reputation grew very quickly and this established him as a premier silversmith. Due to this, he was commissioned to make a piece for the famous dinner service for Catherine the Great. This piece was a wonderful large two-handled hand-chased cup and cover which is now on display at the Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg. Crespin joined forces with a number of other Huguenot goldsmiths and silversmiths, including Paul De Lamerie, to complete the entire dinner service.

Paul produced some of his finest work in the 1730’s and 1740’s making wonderful pieces for notable families such as the Dukes of Portland, Somerset, and Devonshire. Around 1740 he made his large and impressive nautical-themed table centerpiece weighing over 1,000 troy ounces. This piece today is still one of the greatest pieces made in England in silver during the 18th century. It is in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle and can be viewed there. His surviving work is of a consistently high standard, rivaling that of Paul De Lamerie.

In general, Crespin’s pieces were spectacular as they were all of the finest quality that one would expect from such a dignified silversmith. In 1759 Paul retired from the trade and lived the rest of his life with his wife until he passed away on January 25th, 1770.

Articles by Paul Crespin

George II Antique English Silver Oblong Salver

De Lamerie, Paul (1688 – 1751)

Paul De Lamerie is considered one of the most important silversmiths in history. He is most renowned for his exceptional quality of artistry and his mastery of the complex and elaborate Rococo style. His spectacular and highly sought-after pieces are the basis for his lasting reputation and he holds the distinct honor of being the most famous silversmith in the history of antique English silver.

Paul De Lamerie was born in 1688 the son of a French nobleman, a Huguenot who left France to settle in what is now the Netherlands. The family then fled as religious refugees to London in 1691. His father decided that Paul should train to become a goldsmith and silversmith. At the age of fifteen,  young Paul was apprenticed to the famous Huguenot silversmith Pierre Platel. It is to this celebrated craftsman that Paul gained all of his early knowledge of the trade. After 10 years, he opened his own workshop in 1713 at Great Windmill Street and 3 years later was appointed goldsmith to George 1st. In 1717, Paul was admitted to the livery of the Goldsmiths’ Company and was referred to as the ‘King’s Silversmith’. Early in Paul’s career, his work was in the simple Queen Anne style producing mostly unornamented objects such as tankards and teapots. However, by the 1730’s more elaborate Rococo designs were popular and his pieces became increasingly ornate and highly decorated  – this was when his quality of work was distinctly superior to any other silversmith previously known.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (in London) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in New York City) have an extensive collection of Paul De Lamerie silverware. In today’s society, Paul De Lamerie’s silver is considered to be the most sought-after by collectors. This is due to the quality of his workmanship as well as his fame and reputation as a master of his craft.

Hennell, David (1712 -1785) and Robert (1741-1811)

The founder of the “Hennell dynasty” was David Hennell 1 (1712-1785). His firm today is considered one of the oldest and most reputable jewelers and silversmiths in London.

David Hennell began his apprenticeship with Edward Wood in 1735 and left the following year to open his own business. In 1763, Robert 1 (1741 – 1811) joined his father in the business. Together, they formed their own maker’s mark (this designated that they were the maker of a particular piece) when they registered with the assay office in 1763. In 1768, they created another maker’s mark. In 1773 David retired and the family business was continued by his son, Robert. In 1795, Robert’s son, David (1767 – 1829) joined his father’s business and registered a new mark. In 1802, David’s brother, Samuel (1778 – 1837) joined the firm. Soon after, David retired from the firm and the business continued with Samuel and his father Robert. When Robert passed away (1811), Samuel took over and formed a brief partnership (1814 – 1816) with John Terry who had married one of his nieces. By 1816, Samuel returned to working on his own.

After leaving his apprenticeship with his uncle and the engraver John Houle, Robert started working predominately as an engraver. In 1808 he entered his first mark on his own, beginning soon one of the most prolific silversmiths of the Regency period. The firm specialized in English domestic silver such as salts, cruets, tea and coffee sets often delicately engraved or finely pierced.

After Robert’s retirement in 1833, his sons took over the business. In 1887, the firm was sold to Holland. Aldwinkle and Slater. Today, the Hennell name is carried on by the very respected firm Frazier & Haws and Hennell of Bond Street.

Articles by David and Robert Hennell

Pair of George III Antique English Silver Oval Salt Cellars

Jenks, Lewis (1840 – 1888)

Lewis Jenks is considered a pre-eminent American silversmith as he was a very important designer of silver in Boston. He first worked at the Boston firm of Bigelow, Brothers, and Kennard and he left there and went out on his own around 1872. Eventually, he became a partner from 1876 to 1880 with Edward Parry Kennard in Boston and the firm became known as Kennard and Jenks. At this time, they created a Japanesque motif silver which was the first of its kind made in Boston. The aesthetic movement in silver was featured in the late 19th century and was among the most exciting and innovative periods in American silversmithing. The overall shape of the pieces was borrowed from an earlier stylistic era and was focused on decorative surface detail. These forms showed up in flowers, plants, and birds with decorative elements from Japanese designs. The Aesthetic movement and Orientalism which was also a big rage at this time, created an unbelievable interest in all things Japanese. Lewis Jenks’ work is considered the finest made in Boston during this period. As the people at Gorham were so impressed with his workmanship, they hired him in 1880. Eventually, Gorham bought out the firm and they relocated to Providence, Rhode Island. Lewis Jenks later became involved with Goodnow and Jenks, Boston’s leading silversmiths of the 1890’s who worked in a much more traditional style.

Articles by Lewis Jenks

Antique American Silver Platter

Storr, Paul (1771 – 1844)

Paul Storr was the most celebrated of the George III silversmiths, and his pieces showed a degree of skill and workmanship that was comparable only to Paul De Lamerie. His reputation was established after his pieces were purchased by both King George III and George 1V. This approval distinguished Paul as a superior silversmith. He was a great artist and some of his designs were based on ancient Roman silver, many were in a revived Rococo style. He is known for his grandiose highly ornate neo-classical style that was developed in the Regency period.

The son of a silver-chaser turned innkeeper, Paul Storr would rise to fame and fortune throughout the 19th century. He was apprenticed to the silversmith Andrew Fogelberg around 1785 and this lasted for seven years. Paul Storr’s first major mark was entered in 1792, and shortly afterward in 1793, he began to use the ‘PS’ mark which he continued to use throughout his entire career as a silversmith, with only minor alterations on the original mark.

Phillip Rundell of the firm Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell, realized the potential for entering into business with Paul and actually pursued him for 3 years between 1803 and 1806. Finally, Paul agreed to join Rundell’s firm and much of his success was due to the influence of Phillip Rundell. At this time, Rundell’s firm was one of the most prestigious, and Storr’s pieces were executed in his highly ornate work for which he is best known. In 1819, he decided to leave the firm and three years later he formed a partnership with John Mortimer, which continued until 1838 when he decided to retire.

Paul Storr’s legacy is superb and he maintained a level of craftsmanship that has become more appreciated than ever – and today many collectors are always on the lookout to acquire pieces that were made by him.

Tiffany and Company (1837 to Present)

Tiffany and Co. is a well-known American luxury jewelry and silverware company that was founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young in New York City. While it is predominantly known for its exquisite diamond jewelry and engagement rings, Tiffany and Co. also produced a wide range of silverware, including flatware, holloware, and giftware. The company’s silverware is crafted from high-quality sterling silver and is known for its timeless design and superior craftsmanship. Tiffany and Co. has a long history of collaborating with renowned designers to create unique and elegant silverware collections. Some of the most famous designs include the ‘Chrysanthemum’ collection designed by Charles T. Grosjean, the ‘Vine’ collection by Paulding Farnham, and the ‘English King’ collection by William Hood.

Even though Tiffany and Co. is regarded as a premier American luxury jewelry and silverware company, it actually did not start out like that. Originally, the company sold fancy stationery and goods under the name Tiffany and Young. Even though America was in an economic recession at the time, the company flourished with its quality merchandise imported from Europe and India. In 1841, they added J. L. Ellis as a partner and the firm became Tiffany, Young & Ellis and was located in Lower Manhattan. The first of the Tiffany “Blue Book” catalogues appeared in 1845 and with this, the first beginnings of silver merchandise were presented. In the first catalogue, small range of personal items appeared and all, were most certainly, imported.

The firm expanded to a larger space at 271 Broadway in 1847. This enabled a significant increase in the retailing of silver and jewelry. At this time, American made silver started to take its place alongside the Tiffany name. 1851 was a very important year in the history of American silver. Tiffany, Young & Ellis, seeking to distinguish their silver articles, became the first American firm to introduce the use of the English Sterling (.925) standard in American made silver.

Both Young & Ellis retired in 1853, giving Charles Tiffany control of the firm. Once again, he moved the firm to larger premises. This time it was to 550 Broadway. He also at this time, changed the name as we know it today, Tiffany and Company. Over the next two decades, Tiffany worked closely with John C. Moore, who was one of the finest and most distinguished American holloware silversmiths. He produced exclusively for Tiffany’s and at this time, his son, Edward Chandler Moore joined the firm. This was beginning of its greatest creativity of American silver. One of the most important services made by Tiffany in the 19th century was the Dinner and Dessert Service for twenty-four. This was made for John W. Mackay, an Irish-American industrialist. His service consisted of 1,250 pieces made from half a ton of silver. Charles Grosjean of Tiffany designed the service and Edward C. Moore supervised the project. Charles Carpenter in his book ‘Tiffany Silver’ notes that this was ‘the largest, the grandest, the most elegantly ornate and most famous set of its time’. In 1867, at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, Tiffany became the first American firm to win an award for excellence in silver.

In 1868, Charles Tiffany made an important decision regarding the firm. He reached an agreement with Edward C. Moore and purchased Moore’s firm. Now, Tiffany and Co. was a silver manufacturer as well as a silver retailer. Also, at this time, the silver was to be marked with the initial of the President of the firm. This continued until the mid-1960’s.

Today, Tiffany and Co. is a worldwide brand that markets itself on taste and style. Still being an American brand, Tiffany and Co. focuses on luxury jewelry, china, glassware, and sterling silver as well as other miscellaneous accessories. Tiffany’s is a specialty retailer, sticking to it’s roots with its headquarters still in New York City. On January 7th 2021 LVMH completed the acquisition of Tiffany & Co. Since then, they have completely refurbished their New York City store and (in our opinion it looks more beautiful than ever). Alexandre Arnault, son of billionaire and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, has revamped the brand to attract younger buyers; Jay Z and Beyonce are its latest ambassadors.

Articles by Tiffany and Company

Antique American Silver Christening Mug

Antique American Tiffany and Company Silver Crumber

Pair of American Tiffany and Company Silver Salt Cellars

Antique American Tiffany and Company Silver Grape Scissors

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A Mother's Day Tea Party

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