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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 Sterling Silver Teapot

Boulton, Matthew (1728 – 1809)

The city of Birmingham is justly proud of Matthew Boulton who was a most gifted individual both in his ability in the field of art and his mechanical aptitude. Shortly after the discovery of the Sheffield Plate industry, Boulton went to the city of Sheffield to better acquaint himself with this new technique. In 1762, he successfully introduced its manufacture in a district called Soho. It was basically a factory but designed to look like a county mansion as it was set in a landscaped park. From here, he designed, manufactured, and sold a huge array of Old Sheffield plated and silver items. As the business in the Soho factory increased, Boulton became the largest single manufacturer of Sheffield Plate of the period. However, I do want to stress, at no time were the goods made in such a way as to lessen their quality because of the competition that existed at this time.  As a matter of fact, the pieces that came from the Boulton factory were actually the finest the world had ever seen. Unfortunately, Matthew Boulton never registered his famous mask of a sunburst until 1805, and therefore many pieces that were surely the result of his handiwork were not credited to him.

While we are primarily interested in Boulton’s association with the Sheffield Plate trade, his greatest contribution to the world (in my opinion) was the development of the steam engine. Most people do not know this fact and although James Watt went down in history, as deservedly, the inventor of the steam engine, James Watt did admit that his production would have been a failure without the help of Boulton. As a result of Matthew Boulton, Birmingham became the epicenter of all of Europe for the manufacture of heavy machinery.

Many collectors of Old Sheffield feel that the work of Matthew Boulton was outstanding and refer to him as the Rembrandt of his trade.

Crespin, Paul (1694 – 1770)

Paul Crespin was one of the most influential Huguenot silversmiths working in England during the reign of George II. 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 1730s and 1740s 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 as 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 Sterling 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, the 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 1730s 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.

Stone, Arthur (1847 – 1938)

Arthur Stone was an American silversmith who trained and worked in Sheffield, England and Edinburgh, Scotland before travelling back to the United States in 1884. He was one of the last silversmiths in America to train apprentices to make designs in hand-wrought silver. He first worked for William B. Durgin Company in Concord, New Hampshire before moving in 1887 to Gardner, Massachusetts. There he became designer and manager for the newly formed Frank W. Smith Company. In 1901, Stone set up a workshop in Gardner, Massachusetts under his own name. His business flourished rather quickly and the demand for his work became so great that he hired 12 men, eight of whom were qualified as master craftsmen. Arthur Stone’s work can be recognized by his trademark. This is an “A” for Arthur in the form of a hammer with the handle extending through the name “Stone”.  This can be found on every piece he made. Each of the craftsmen employed by him, also signed their work by using their initials. Arthur Stone remained in business for 36 years until he sold the business to Henry Heywood. Today, he is recognized as America’s premier Arts and Crafts Silversmith.

Articles by Arthur Stone

Set of 4 American Sterling Silver Pepper Casters

 

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 IV. 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.