Just Andersen (1884-1943)
Just Andersen (Just A) was born in Greenland with the family moving to Denmark at an early age. He worked with the jewellers A.Michelsen and P.Hertz after studying silversmithing and sculpting at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He started his own workshop in 1918 with some help from Mogens Ballin in the form of a commission for an altar in Copenhagen. He was drawn toward bronze and came up with a new less expensive alloy for some of his metal wares, which he called ‘Disko’ metal. The exact nature of this alloy has never been determined as Just took the ‘recipe’ to the grave. He was to receive many awards, all outside of Denmark, which enabled him to open shops in France, Germany, Italy and the USA apart from Denmark. He married Alba Lycke who had worked in Georg Jensen’s work shop as a chaser. She along with Ellen Schlanbusch continued with the business after Just’s death in 1943, employing Karen Strand, Arje Griegst and Jane Wiberg as apprentices within the company. The business was closed in 1973.
Argenta Design Ltd (DSD Danish Silver Designs Ltd)
The founder of Argenta, Kjeld Jacobsen, came to Britain from Denmark in 1965 where he worked for Georg Jensen, Bond St, London, for 18 months.
Kjeld came from a family of Jewellers which was started by his grandfather Knud Jacobsen. Kjeld’s father, Borge Jacobsen, earned the Naeringsbrev or official licence to practice but then came to the UK to study at Vittoria Street, Birmingham. There he achieved the Certificate of Merit in the Silversmithing Class during the 1935-36 session, before returning to Denmark. Borge went on to become Chairman of the Danish Goldsmiths Association for over fourteen years. Egon Lauridsen the Danish silversmith was Borge Jacobsen’s cousin.
Kjeld founded Danish Silver Designs Ltd on the 4th of April 1967. As DSD, Kjeld – with his respected dynastic jewellery background and being a native Dane – became the UK representative of all the noteworthy Danish workshops, with the exception of Georg Jensen. He also went on to do likewise for some of the other Scandinavian manufacturers, including the notable Finnish company Lapponia.
In 1969 he opened the shop, Argenta Design Ltd at 84 Fulham Road, London, moving next door to number 82 in 1972. At various times, Argenta also had a shop in the Kings Road, Chelsea and Heath Street, Hampstead, as well as concessions in Harrods, Heals and Liberty’s.
Argenta had its own workshop in the upper floors at 82 Fulham Road, and Kjeld designed and Argenta made some 40% of their jewellery, including many commissions for individual clients. In addition, Argenta was chosen to participate in the De Beers’ Diamond Collection for 10 years into the 1980s, and he worked with De Beers in designing jewellery for their advertising.
Sergio Asti (1926)
Asti was born in Milan, Italy, in 1926. After graduating in Architecture from Milan Polytechnic, Sergio Asti opened his city-centre studio in 1953, establishing himself as one of the top Italian industrial designers and becoming a founder member of the ADI (Italian Industrial Design Association).
Many of the articles that he has designed are today part of collections in prestigious Design Museums around the world. For FontanaArte, he designed Daruma, a table lamp in blown glass, in the catalogue since 1968.
Right from the start he was also heavily involved in the design of public and private buildings, interiors and layouts, including: the Fiat showroom (Milan, 1964), the President’s Offices at FISI, the Italian Winter Sports Federation (Milan, 1976), layouts for numerous temporary exhibitions at the Triennale, La Rinascente and Eurodomus.
He taught at the Art High School in Venice and at the Experimental High School in Shizuoka, Japan.
As Italian design surged in popularity worldwide in the 1970s, Knoll International (having acquired the Italian design company Gavina SpA) used its growing presence in Italy to attract other Italian designers to the company. In 1972, Knoll collaborated with Sergio Asti to introduce the Asti Collection, which included a lamp and several glass and marble bowls and vases. Sergio Asti also worked for companies such as Artemide, Arteluce, Brionvega, Candle, Kartell, Martinelli Luce, Poltronova, Salviati, and Venini. His Door handle ‘066’ is featured in the MoMA Museum of Modern Art.
In 1976 he designed the stainless steel Boca pattern flatware for ICM in Italy. It was also made in the USA by H.E.Lauffer Co., Inc., of Somerset, New Jersey, their pieces are marked accordingly. It is featured in various museum collections.
He has gained numerous international awards over the years.
Geoffrey Guy Bellamy (1922 -1997)
At 18 Geoffrey joined the RAF in 1940 and served in 405 squadron flying Lancasters before moving on to the Pathfinder force where he won the DFC and bar. He lost 2 crews, one while on sick-leave recovering from a flak wound, the other while he was seconded elsewhere, and flew 112 missions.
Following the war he studied at the Birmingham College of Art from 1946-1950 and then at the Royal College of Art from 1950-1953 graduating the same year as his younger colleagues Gerald Benney and David Mellor. He and Mellor were the first two students to win first class honours in the silver degree course and all of the younger students looked up to him. Eric Clements was also there at the same time and Robert Welch graduated in 1955, all of them being taught by Robert Goodden.
Bellamy started his own one-man workshop in London in a small basement beneath a dry-cleaner’s in Cadogan Street making small items, some for the retailer George Tarratt in Leicester. He often featured his facsimlie signature to pieces. With Ivan Tarratt they formed Bellamy & Tarratt, a production silver company which lasted until 1959. He then produced some designs for A E Jones of Birmingham.
In 1961 Bellamy won a Design Centre Award for his “Monte Carlo” cutlery, made by George Wolstenholme in Sheffield. Sometime before 1964 he joined the Council of Industrial Design as Industrial Liason Officer for silver and the allied industries, his job being to encourage good designs. Bellamy enjoyed teaching and became Head of the Sheffield College of Art and then Principal at Canterbury and Maidstone.
John Baker Bennett
John Baker Bennett was the Bennett half of the Anglo German company Murrle Bennett & Co. Ernst Murrle being the German contingent. But in early 1907 Bennett registered the company John Baker Bennett & Co, with William Rabone Haseler and John Haseler as directors. The company however only lasted until February 2nd 1909 going into voluntary liquidation. John Baker Bennett was to pass away in July of that year . Among the creditors listed were W.H.Haseler Ltd, and H and R. Haseler. It would seem W.H.Haseler were supplying John Baker Bennett & Co and with designs from the Liberty & Co catalogue from a few examples I have seen. It is also probably the case in the instance of Liberty & Co designs marked for Murrle Bennett.
Michael Bolton (1938-2005)
A self taught silversmith after leaving the world of commerce in 1970. His new career really took off after first exhibiting at the ‘Loot’ exhibition at Goldsmiths Hall in 1975, carrying on at the subsequent ‘Loot’ exhibitions up until 1981. This pendant having been produced early on during that fruitful period. In 1996 he achieved great success once more at the ‘Contemporary Silver Tableware’ exhibition. Michael Bolton has been commissioned to produce work not only for the Royal Collections, the Goldsmiths Hall themselves but many Livery Companies also. He also made the silverware featured in the film ‘The Madness of King George’. A member of ABDS, Association of British Designer Silversmiths, he worked to commission using young designers and assistants at his workshop in Launceston in Cornwall. His clients include Glenda Jackson, Julie Andrews, Stanley Kubrick, the Indian High Commission in Brussels, and Lord Palumbo. He worked on silver and high carat gold using only hand tools, making that direct connection between artisan and the metal. He cited his work as being steeped in the ethics of the early 20th century Arts and Crafts movement, Celtic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon metalwork, along with King Arthur and the Arthurian legends.
Booty (See Wally Morgan (Designs))
Brodrene Bjerring (Brothers Bjerring of Copenhagen) 1962-1988
The brothers set up their workshop and gallery in the centre of Copenhagen in 1962. They not only produced and sold jewels of their own design but they sold Kupittaan Kulta jewellery from Finland. These pieces bearing not only the Kupittaan Kulta mark but their Brdr Bj script mark. They eventually closed in 1988.
Hans Bunde (1919-1996)
Born in 1919 in Denmark. Apprenticed to Anton Michelsen’s workshop. Went on training at Carl Cohr, 1931-1947, based in Fredericia, Jutland. Left Cohr to work for the world renowned Wiwen Nilsson but was to return to Cohr in 1951, to be their leading designer in the factory.
Cado Design Ltd, registered with the Sheffield Assay Office on the 18th August 1964. From 1967 the company were registered at 151 Arundel Street and before that Howard Works, Sheffield, however the company did have a registered office in London. Ralph Weston was on the board of directors for a period. It is conceivable that Weston may have produced designs for them? By 1975 their registered address was Knowle House, 4 Norfolk Park, Sheffield. The company went into liquidation circa 1980, having had their first creditors meeting on 2nd September 1975.
Eric Clements (1925-
Born 1925 in Rugby and educated there. Spent 3 years at Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts from 1942 until war service interrupted his training.
In 1948 he won a travelling scholarship and spent 3 weeks in Scandinavia where he was impressed by Sigurd Perrson in Stockholm, Henning Koppel at Jensen and Hans Hansen in Copenhagen. 1949-52 at the Royal College of Art in London and taught at a secondary modern school in Ealing. (Des. RCA, FSIA, FRSA). Returned to Birmingham where he spent 10 years teaching at the School of Jewellery and Silversmithing in Vittoria Street. Consultant designer at Mappin & Webb and then British Silverware. He played a major part in the re-organisation of the Birmingham College of Art from 1964-72 when he was Head of the School of Industrial Design. He then became Dean of the Faculty of Art and Design and Assistant Director of the Polytechnic of Wolverhampton.
Carl M. Cohr (Manufactuers Denmark 1860-1987)
Silversmith workshop. Carl M. Cohr (1860-1925) was a Danish silversmith who took over the workshop of his father Ditlef (1829-1883) when he died. His factory in Fredericia made some of the best silverware in Denmark. The Cohr firm commissioned work from artists but was also known for the large scale production of jewellery which was more or less directly copied from work by George Jensen, Thorvald Bindeshøll and Mogens Ballin.When he died in 1925 Kaj Lützen took over as administrative director with Carl Cohr’s son Einar. The silversmith Hans Bunde trained at the works 1937-41 and returned in 1951 as designer. The factory closed in 1987.
Graham Crimmins (1946)
Graham Crimmins was born in Croydon, Surrey and attended the School of Jewellery & Silversmithing, Birmingham College of Art & Design, 1967-1971. After completing his studies Crimmins worked in the workshop of a Birmingham jeweller. He then went on to establish his own workshop in Edinburgh in 1973. His work included items made of gold, silver, brass, copper and titanium. He has lectured part time at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Cumbria colleges of art. His work is held in the collections of a number of British Museums (Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery), the UK Craft Council and private collections, the American Crafts Council, and the Rohsska Museum, Sweden. Exhibitions at The Scottish Gallery include The Metal Vessel, 1988, Silver from Scotland, 1997 and Collection 2000.
Danish Silver Designs Ltd (See Argenta Design Ltd (DSD Danish Silver Designs Ltd))
Erik Dennung (1925-2007)
Worked as a silversmith and had a workshop Dennung Salvmedie APS on Frederiksberg in Copenhagen, opening in the 1960s. He made a lot of big and bold jewellery, real statement pieces. These items required a lot of material and that is the reason that he mostly used silver plate over base metals. He also worked in commission for Buch & Deigmann just like Jacob Hull. These pieces were also marked with the B+D mark. Buch & Deichmann made plastic bracelets and pins, as well as other costume jewellery, and Dennung made silver plated jewellery for the company. Buch & Deichmann is still in business and now makes stylish sunglasses. During the period 1971-1979 Dennung worked in partnership with the well-known Danish jeweller J. Andersen in Copenhagen. In this period Dennung marked these pieces with AD Design. Erik Denning’s shop is still there and is being run by his son Steen Dennung. Erik Dennung jewellery is hard to find nowadays. The jewellery with the Buch & Deigmann mark and the pieces marked AD Design are quite rare.
Nanna Ditzel (1923-2005)
Nanna Ditzel was born in Copenhagen in 1923.
She began training as a cabinetmaker and then went on to study at the School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. She trained in furniture design, completing her studies in 1946.
She is considered one of the 20th century’s leading furniture and jewellery designers. Most prolific during the post-World War II time period known as the golden age of Danish design, she worked alongside some of the greatest names in Scandinavian design. From the early days of her career, her innovation set her apart from other furniture designers. She explored different materials including fibreglass, wickerwork and foam rubber and found it impossible to limit herself by discipline, preferring instead to dabble in such diverse specialties as cabinet-making, jewellery, tableware, applied art and textiles.
Ditzel’s collaboration with Georg Jensen spanned a half a century and led to the production of over 150 works for the company, mostly in the field of jewellery design. Nanna Ditzel’s unceasing innovation in the uses of silver and gold has, during the course of five decades, resulted in jewellery with its own unique modern idiom–this idiom has come to represent Georg Jensen’s unique design language. She also undertook some designs in collaboration with her husband Jorgen.
During her lifetime, Ditzel was an international presence–she exhibited at one time or another in Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, Vienna, London, Stockholm, Milan, Glasgow, Manchester, Reykjavik, Paris and Denmark. She was also the recipient of numerous design accolades, in Denmark and abroad.
Leslie Gordon Durbin (1913-2005)
Leslie Durbin MVO 1943; CBE 1976; was one of the most admired silversmiths of the 20th century.
His commissions ranged from work on the “Stalingrad Sword” presented by King George VI to the city of Stalingrad in 1943 to early designs on the pound coins in the 1980s. He designed processional crosses for Coventry and Liverpool cathedrals and parliamentary maces for the newly independent former colonies, and modelled the Queen’s head for the Silver Jubilee hallmark of 1977. He was disappointed when his design for a Millennium £5 coin, executed when he was in his late eighties, was turned down for its overt Christian symbolism.
Born in Fulham, south-west London, in 1913, the son of Harry Durbin, a railway clerk, who died in the great flu epidemic of 1918. His mother, Lillian, had to return with Leslie and his handicapped younger sister to live with her parents. She took in dressmaking to earn money: Leslie’s first job was running errands for her.
At the age of 13 he won a London County Council Trade Scholarship to the silversmithing class at the LCC Central School, where he remained for three years, attending normal school lessons in the morning and silversmithing in the afternoons: he was soon taught to engrave. The Head of the Department, Augustus Steward, was asked by Omar Ramsden, the leading silversmith of the time, to recommend an apprentice for his Fulham workshop: Durbin was proposed, but when he found that his training there would be restricted to chasing, engraving and decorating he returned to the Central for evening and Saturday classes in order to continue more general training.
In 1938 he won a Goldsmiths’ Company scholarship for a full-time place at the Central School. There he won a competition for an altar plate for Guildford Cathedral; his travelling scholarship from the Goldsmiths’ Company took him through France to Italy and Germany, Hungary and Sweden, treating the journey, with the encouragement of H.G. Murphy, the Central’s Principal, as a Grand Tour. As the threat of war loomed he returned to London and thanks to the generosity of another silversmith, Francis Adam, was able to complete commissions including a commemorative dish with a map of North America for the 1939 visit by the King and Queen, in a workshop in Lambeth. His call-up papers for the RAF arrived.
He and his wife Phyllis moved to Titchfield Road, St John’s Wood, into a studio which had once belonged to the artist Harry Furniss, from where Phyllis operated as an unofficial war artist with a permit to sketch in London. When bombing increased she was invited by a friend to stay at Keynsham, between Bath and Bristol. While Leslie was away she completed an impressive body of work for the Pilgrim Trust’s “Recording Britain” scheme, creating records of the townscapes that were under threat from bombing. Leslie was meanwhile seconded from the RAF to assist with the commission won by R.M.Y. Gleadowe for a sword to be presented to the Russians to commemorate the victory at Stalingrad: Durbin’s role was to make up the silver and gold parts and to accompany it on its tour through the UK (policemen shadowed their every move). The sword was presented to Joseph Stalin, in Tehran in November 1943, by Winston Churchill on behalf of the King. Durbin never went to the Soviet Union to see the sword in place, but his mother followed its progress closely, cutting out the many articles that appeared.
After the end of the Second World War Durbin went into partnership with Len Moss and they set up a workshop at 62 Rochester Place, which continued until Moss, a specialist hammerman, retired in 1970. Durbin taught part-time at the Royal College of Art and Central School at first. Omar Ramsden’s widow sold him some of her husband’s casting patterns and encouraged his new business by recommending former customers.
George Hughes, the Clerk of the Goldsmiths’ Company, introduced a commission from the Bank of England for an inkstand to commemorate the 250th anniversary of its foundation. Sir Stephen Courtauld was one of Durbin’s first private patrons: in 1948 he commissioned a silver beer jug engraved with a map of the world to commemorate a world tour. Later he was probably responsible for the commission from the Anglo-American Corporation for a pair of silver-gilt salts to commemorate the Queen Mother’s opening of the Kariba Dam in Africa in 1960. Durbin’s reputation flowered: as Susan Hare writes in her introduction to the Goldsmiths’ Company exhibition “Fifty Years of Silversmithing”, held in 1982, “Durbin’s designs in the early 1950s were like a breath of spring air in their innovative quality, while still retaining a strong feeling for the symbolic.” Many of his commissions – such as the maces for Sarawak or the Nigerian House of Representatives or Coventry Cathedral’s processional cross – could not be borrowed back for that exhibition as they were in such constant use. Collaborations included two important pieces in the Royal Collection made with the glass designer Laurence Whistler: the first a casket of glass he engraved enclosed in an architectural framework in silver gilt presented by Queen Elizabeth to the King for Christmas 1949 (it took three years to create); the second in 1972, an engraved-glass plaque showing an aerial view of the flight-path above Windsor, in a silver frame by Durbin, presented by the British Airports Authority to the Queen.
In 1951 Professor Robert Goodden of the RCA was invited to design a tea service for the Festival of Britain and asked Durbin to work on it with him. In 1970 he designed a chain of office for the National Chairman of the Townswomen’s Guild and in 1979 a silver oar for the Admiral of the Cinque Ports, presented, to replace one that had been stolen, to the Queen Mother when she was installed as Lord Warden at Dover.
The natural world, particularly animals, remained an important feature of Durbin’s work, particularly inspiring his highly original chasing: he was rare among establishment silversmiths in applying his individual style to his modelling techniques. He would visit London Zoo repeatedly and his use of wax modelling created organic and spontaneous pieces.
In 1977 the Assay Office commissioned Durbin to model the Queen’s head from which the special Silver Jubilee marks used by all UK offices was to be used: a paperweight is in the Royal Collection. Durbin then decided to run down the workshop at Rochester Place and, hearing of this, Hector Miller, a younger silversmith who needed to expand, approached Durbin although he could not afford to pay a going rate for the freehold. He describes how, after only a brief meeting, Durbin was offering him a mortgage himself. Miller took over the workshop and for a year or so they overlapped.
Miller tells an anecdote of the making of a film about the lost days of Agatha Christie, Agatha (1979), starring Vanessa Redgrave, whose opening frames show Leslie Durbin engraving a cup with the words “Agatha” in a cobweb-filled garret: Durbin was proud of the Equity membership that resulted.
He became an adviser to the Crafts Advisory Committee, the forerunner of the Crafts Council, and continued to work assiduously from home. In 1984, the year after the pound coin was introduced, he created the first of four designs for the Royal Mint for the “tails” side of the coin, one each for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 1990 he made a $1 coin for Bermuda to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen Mother, in 1994 a £2 coin for the Bank of England and in 1997 a gold £5 proof coin.
Tias Eckhoff (25 June 1926 – 30 January 2016)
Born Mathias Gerhard ‘Tias’ Eckhoff in Vestre Slidre, 200 kilometres north west of Oslo, Norway. A son of shipmaster Trygve Eckhoff and Sigrid Einang, and was a brother of Torstein Eckhoff.
He studied as a potter at the Norwegian State School of Arts and Craft from 1945 through to 1949 and then worked for Porsgrund Porcelain and became their head of design in 1952. He designed a number of ranges of tableware including a coffee set in Feldspar porcelain, the Glohane oven and tableware and the Hanko, Nektar and Meny ranges. He also designed Det Rifelde, 1952, Maya, 1961, and Una in 1973.
Eckhoff designed flatware including the Cypress range of cutlery for Georg Jensen in 1953, and then the Eckhoff range of cutlery in stainless steel with handles in palisander wood, that was made first in Norway and then in Denmark by Dansk Knivfabrik. Opus cutlery was designed with wood or plastic handles. Fuga was completely in steel but with polished blades or tines or spoon bowls but matt handles.
Although known best for ceramics and flatware, Eckhoff designed architectural door furniture and two chairs in moulded plastic – Ana, a stacking chair produced in 1980 and then Tomi. Bella, a chair produced from 1995, was formed with pressed laminate board but with fabric seat and back.
In 1953 Eckhoff was awarded the Lunning Prize together with Henning Koppel of Denmark. He has also won gold medals at the Milan Tiennale in 1954, 1957 and 1960.
He is represented in many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Victoria and Albert museum, London.
Niels Erik From (1908-1986)
Born in Denmark in 1908. He trained as a silversmith and opened a shop in 1931 from which he also sold some of his designs, but the N.E.From smithy is first registered in Nakskov in 1944.
There are two distinct styles in the From production. The sinewy foliage and floral pieces were designed by Niels Erik From and characterise the early years of production, whereas the bold modernist pieces were introduced by another designer in the 1960s. His son-in-law Hilmer Jensen joined the management team in 1960, and took over the firm in 1986 after Niels Erik’s death. The company was wound up a few years later.
There are also a number of signatures used by the company. Smaller pieces may simply be marked FROM. Others have N.E.FROM, STERLING, DENMARK, 925S in a square, and finally, many pieces bear the N.E.From signature in an italic script. From’s production was extensive, and his work was exported world wide in the 1960’s and 70’s. Availability is now increasingly limited and prices correspondingly rising as collectors warm to these modern classics and now Niels Erik From has joined the ‘greats’ of modernist Danish Design. .
Qualified as a goldsmith in 1949 after serving his apprenticeship with the goldsmith Ejler Fangel in Copenhagen. He was among the first group of students at the Goldsmith’s Academy from where he graduated with top grades in 1953. He was immediately hired by the Hans Hansen Solvsmedie and worked there until 1969. By the time he left he was responsible for the firm’s entire production.
After leaving the Hans Hansen Company, Gabrielsen set up his own workshop called “Gabrielsen’s Guldsmedie”. He kept his business small with he and his wife the only employees. A large part of his production was sold in Japan.
Bent Gabrielsen designed for Georg Jensen and won the Lunning Prize in 1964. As Erik Bohr, Chairman of the Lunning Committee wrote, ” Bent Gabrielsen’s jewelry carries absolute conviction as to its function; his handling of materials is so restrained and well considered that one feels this could hardly be otherwise. His jewelry is simple and clearly constructed, often with links connecting naturally with each other so that the complete piece makes up a beautiful whole.
Michael (Mike) Gill (1929-)
By Mr Gill’s own admission his early education was spasmodic and pretty awful due to the family’s nomadic lifestyle during the war years. His national service from 1947-49 was with the Durham Light Infantry. Following that Mike Gill found himself on the Isle of Arran, Scotland, where he took up furniture making and became a member of Scottish Crafts Centre at Acheson House. It was also at that time he became interested in gemstones indiginous to the island. This lead to him finding agates, fossil coral, dark smokey quartz, and milky chalcedony. This fired him on to complete the first part of the Fellowship of the Gemmological Association by their correspondence course.
This in turn inspired Mike to undertake the jewellery and silversmithing course at the Glasgow School of Art from 1955-1956. Here he met the artist Alasdair Gray, who produced a pencil scetch of him, currently on offer along with other items by the artist at the Scottish Gallery, the link to the works by Gray and Mike Gill’s portrait is
Here Mike Gill was to also meet Digby who was obsessed with the Zodiac Hieroglyphs. The association with Digby was to become life long. Mike also undertook part II of the F.G.A. course at Stowe College, but didn’t take the exam, he chose to get married instead! At this period Mike was introduced to the work of Jung and the ‘Union of Opposites’ motif that was to be influential in his work, even appearing as a motif in a later commission.
1959 Mike helped to set up the Arran Gallery in an unused church on the Isle of Arran. Started making jewellery seriously. Joined C.N.D. and attended anti-Polaris demonstrations.
At the start of the 1960’s Mike became divorced but in 1961 he was to set up his ‘Jewellery Workshop’. Around this time he became more and more interested in Digby’s investigations into the Zodiac Glyphs. Mike also met Dr (Margaret) Winifred Rushforth OBE (1885-1993) the eminent Jungian Psychoanalyst, and this was to become a long friendship. Mike made cuneiform chisels for his own use in his workshop.
By 1964 Mike had remarried and his business really began to flourish. Shortly after he introduced a range of Digby’s Zodiac charms & Pendants. These proved to be extremely popular and very profitable. Circa 1967 Mike secured an account to supply the renowned Cameo Corner of London with his jewellery.
1968 Digby started attending the Davidson Clinic in Glasgow.
1972 Mike was chosen, along with twelve other crafts people to go on a Board of Trade mission to Victoria in Canada.
1975 Attended seminar ‘Art in Society’ at Leicester University where he was to give a talk.
1979 Mike Gill left Arran and set up “M.Gill Jewellery” at 80 High St. in Kirkcudbright. Unfortunately these were to prove hard times for the next two or three years. To compound things in 1982 Cameo Corner closed down, so another account was lost.
August 1983 Winifred Rushforth passes away aged 98
1985 Mike was commissioned to make a pair of silver candlesticks. For a retiring dean from Trinity College Cambridge. Note the ‘Union of Opposites’ motif on the boss. Other commissions were forthcoming.
By 1990 business had taken an up turn and was excellent. Mike felt it the right time to start a novel about Digby’s mysterious Zodiac. In 1999 Mike went on a trip to Prague – set up ‘Gems Publishing’ – wrote ‘Mysterious Signs’, ‘Barleycorn Zodiac’, ‘Heretical Zodiac’. Mike also began supplying the magnificent Roslyn Chapel in Scotland with items for sale. Mike also turned his hand to cartography when he drew Kirkcudbright High Street map!
The “M.Gill Jewellery” premises was sold in 2002, but Mike did set up a very small private workshop and started selling at High St Gallery in Kirkcudbright, with Thomas Tosh in Thornhill and at the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries. In 2008 he abandoned all efforts on his novel and sold ‘Gems Publishing’. By 2010 Mike had moved to Dumfries and set up an even smaller private workshop.
2011 He opened a website www.catharzodiac.co.uk and by 2012 had started to put Digby’s researches into the website. One booklet has turned up in New Zealand (on Google Images ask for ‘Barleycorn Zodiac, gumboot NZ’). Recently it has been a return to difficult years for jewellery – using up left over materials making a little ‘new style jewellery’.
Digby’s researches are finished, with extraordinary (though default), conclusions, and December 2014 saw the Website finally concluded.
(This information was very kindly furnished to me by Mike Gill himself in the latter months of 2014)
George Edward Hunt (1892-1960)
George was born in Dudley in the West Midlands and was to live his entire life in the Midlands eventually settling in Harborne in 1927 upon his mothers passing.
As a child George contracted diptheria, at about the age of 8, this was to rob him of his hearing. However despite this set back he was to excel in drawing which won him a scholarship to the Margaret Street School of Art and the Vittoria Street School of jewellery and silversmithing, this was in 1908 at the age of 16.
It was a fortuitous time to be a student at Vittoria Street, the head of the school at the time being Arthur John Gaskin, a renowned book illustrator, having produced work for no less than William Morris, and was also a respected jeweller in partnership with his wife Georgina Gaskin (nee Cave-France). Not only that but he worked, studied and may well have drawn influence from fellow students such as Dorrie Nossiter, Kate Eadie, Lewis Instone and brother Bernard, and William Thomas Blackband, amongst others.
George was one of the students selected to work on the presentation casket for Robert Catterton-Smith, and secured other scholarships and awards in his time at Vittoria Street. His work reflects all that is held dear in the ethos of Arts and Crafts, but absorbed influences from such diverse sources as Vienna, Murrle Bennett in Germany, Egyptian revival courtesy of the discoveries of Carter and Lord Caernarvon, Art Deco, mythology, historicism and all points inbetween. George would not only design his pieces but work on every aspect of them, from carving ivory, such as the ivory Medusa face of the brooch of the same name, enamelling, chasing and carving. Then he would take his completed jewels, silver and pewter wares and set about selling them.
He is known to have exhibited over a number of decades through the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool and elsewhere in the UK and also abroad, such as Paris.
George was to die of heart failure in his Harborne house aged 68, on the 10th December 1960.
A limited number of illustrated catalogues of the only exhibition devoted to the life and work of George Edward Hunt (‘The Silent World of an Arts and Crafts Jeweller’ 2006) are available from this web site. Please go to my About Me page to see details.
Theresia Hvorslev (1935- )
Theresia Hvorslev was one of a group of talented students of the well- known goldsmith Sven-Arne Gillgren, who was chief designer at the Swedish company GAB (G Dahlgren & Co.).
After graduating from Konstfackskolan (University College of Arts & Crafts and Design) in Stockholm, she was apprenticed at Georg Jensen in Copenhagen and at Bernadotte & Bjørn, the design studio of Sigvard Bernadotte and the Danish architect, Acton Bjørn. After obtaining several awards, she became recognized as one of the most influential contemporary Swedish jewelers.
In addition to several museums in Scandinavia, her work is represented in the collections of the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. She also holds three Diamonds InternationalAwards.
After working in Germany and Denmark from 1955-1960, Theresia returned to Sweden and her home town Lidkøping, where, in 1964, she started her own workshop. In the early 1960s she also began her highly prized work as a designer with the companies Alton and Mema. Her early designs are characterized by plain reflective surfaces and wing shaped forms which express the character of the metal.
Among Theresia’s later projects are small silver sculptures made for the Swedish royal family, as well as a large sculpture in steel placed in her home town Lidkøping. Her most widely used design is a set of cutlery made for the SAS (Scandinavian Airline System) and used by them for over thirty years. Throughout the years Theresia Hvorslev has exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Zürich, London, and Paris
Started his career as a trainee at his father’s workshop in Finland in 1953 but soon established his own studio at the age of 21, founding Sirokoru Ltd in 1958.
Matti Hyvärinen has exhibited in numerous jewellery shows in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Basel, Munich, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc.
He has won numerous international awards for his bold, highly distinctive modern designs:
• Diamonds International Award 1967, New York
• RJA President’s Display Award 1977, New York
• Int. Pearl Design Contest, HM. 1983, Tokyo
• Gemmy Award, HM. 1987, Los Angeles
• Goldsmith of the Year 1987, Finland
• Int. Art Competition, Certificate of Excellence 1988, NY
• 15th Novum Calendar Competition Award 1990, München
• International Prix Arctica Competition III prize 1992, Kemi
• Finalist in the World Competition of Arts and Crafts 1999, Kanazawa
• Finalist in the International Craft Competition 2001, Itami
Sirokoru Ltd has become known for its own recognizable style and design and continues to develop.
Some of his pieces echo the style to a degree, of another great Finnish jewellery designer Bjorn Weckstrom for Lapponia.
Bernard Instone (1891-1987)
Here is a link to a website constructed and detailed by a descendant of Bernard Instone which provides an extensive insight into the man and his work. It does him more credit than I could afford him here.
Kjeld Jacobsen (See Argenta Design Ltd (DSD Danish Silver Designs Ltd))
Henning Koppel (1917-1982)
Henning Koppel was a native of Copenhagen and joined the Georg Jensen Company when he was 27. He had just returned to Denmark from Sweden where he, a Jew, had fled to escape the German occupation of Denmark.
He was trained as an artist, particularly in drawing and sculpture and studied at the Kunstakademiet (Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts) and the Academie Rancon in Paris. From the beginning, his silverwork was abstract and sculptural and unlike anything that went before.
His early designs were for jewelry and the forms were flowing and organic looking, closer to the work of other artists of his time like Aalto, Calder, Dali and Leger than anything ever produced at the Georg Jensen silversmithy. By the late 40s, Koppel shifted to designing primarily hollowware and his pieces bear a distinctive sculptural quality harking back to his training as a sculptor. In 1957, Koppel created the CARAVEL pattern of flatware, considered by some the most handsome silver pattern created in modern times. This pattern was named after the French jet plane Caravelle, which SAS had acquired. In 1963 it won the prestigious Der Goldene Loffel award.
Throughout his career, his designs whether in Jewelry, Flatware or Hollow ware were a radical departure from that of all the Jensen designers who went before. From the ornate, nature inspired designs of Jensen himself to the austere, functionalist designs of Sigvaard Bernadotte, Koppel’s very original work was in the spirit of modern art. It attracted international attention and made Georg Jensen a leader in the Scandinavian modern design movement.
Koppel also designed porcelain pieces for Bing and Grondahl, lights and clocks for Louis Poulsen & Co., glass for Kastrup and Orrefors and furniture for Kvetny & Sonner. Koppel was a master draughtsman who executed precise designs and for his hollowware, clay models which allowed him to understand the design’s three dimensionality. His work earned him the reputation of being the leading Danish silver craftsman.
Koppel won many awards, including the Lunning Prize (1953), gold medals from the Milan Triennale (1951, 1954 and 1957) and the International Design Award of the American Institute of Interior Designers (1963)
Bent Knudsen (1924-1997)
Bent Knudsen had been employed by Hans Hansen since 1946, and after 10 years had started his own smithy in 1956, and having been trained at C.M.Cohr he was one of the few during the 50’s to have a craftsmanship based training. Much of what he and his wife, Anni Knudsen, designed had a simple and very clear style to it, often utilizing straightforward forms in silver accented with semiprecious stones. Knudsen jewels, marked Bent K, are not readily available and tend to attract a premium. He and his wife also produced award winning paper cuts and mobiles.
Jorma Laine (1930-2002)
A Finnish jewelry designer, whose work in bronze and silver (more seldom gold) is easily recognizable. He developed a style of his own, very modernistic and often abstract, throughout the 60’s and 70’s.
Born on the the 10th of July 1930, as the only son to his working class parents. Already gifted at a young age he spent most of his time drawing. After primary school he attended the renowned art college Turun Piirustuskoulu (Turku Art School).
During his illustrious career he had his own company, Silver-Laine, but is perhaps best known for the designs he executed for Turun Hopea. He also designed silver jewelry for Kultateollisuus.
After a successfull career in jewelry design, he retired to his cabin in the forest where he led a hermit like life until his death by heart attack on the 27th of December 2002, at 72 years of age.
Ole Lynggaard acquired his first workshop in the north of Copenhagen with his wife Karin in 1963. He had studied in Paris, Germany, San Francisco, New York and Japan. It is still a family run business with his daughter Charlotte designing jewellery, his son Soren has been CEO since 2003, son in law, Charlotte’s husband, Michael Normann has been CCo in 2006, with Soren’s wife, Hanna, joining the company in 2008 and is now Retail Manager. Since 2008 they have been Crown Jewellers to the Danish Royal Court.
Magnus Maximus Design
A British company in the 1970’s producing silver jewellery at Frisington, Cumbria. Registered their mark in Edinburgh (1973) and Birmingham. Their signature seems to be the mounting of raw crystal conglomerates, including amethyst, citrine and petrified wood in quite bold unusual designed mounts, in keeping with the time. Also produced pendants and brooches of wild birds, similar to those seen by Ortak, and Brutalist style jewels. The company had dissolved by the 1980’s
Ernestine Mills (nee Bell) (1871-1959)
One of the Arts and Crafts movements leading exponents of enamelling. She studied at the Slade School of Art, Finsbury Central Technical School, and South Kensington School of Art. Apprenticed to Frederick Shields she developed her enamelling skills. Ernestine Mills also furthered her enamelling skills under Alexander Fisher. She was also accomplished in metalworking. Ernestine was active in the Suffragette movement producing jewels, medals and badges for the WSPU. It was at the South Kensington School of Art she met and studied with Sylvia Pankhurst. As a member of the British Society of Women Artists, 1943-44 saw Ernestine Mills become Acting President. The work of Ernestine Mills can be found in various museums in the UK and abroad. These include the V&A, Cheltenham Museum, the Museum of London and the Delaware Art Museum.
Wally Morgan (Designs)
The Booty Jewellery Story
(As related by Wally Morgan to John Kelly in 2019)
1965. Wally was living with his wife and two children in Whitchurch, Bristol working as a sales rep. He was approached by a childhood friend, Richard Manger, an engineer living in London who also had a side line making and selling jewellery. Richard was about to leave for Canada for a while and asked Wally if he could take care of his jewellery business while he was away. Knowing nothing about jewellery Wally protested. “Come out into the garage” Richard said “and I’ll get you started”. Two days later Richard was in Canada and Wally was practising all he had been shown. Feeling more competent with his new skills and with a few ideas of his own, Wally showed his work to existing customers of Richard’s in London. They seemed to think it was OK.
Wally also showed his work to the Bristol Guild and the Arnolfini Gallery (then located on the triangle in Bristol), both of whom then tried a few pieces. The Bristol Guild wanted more, but not before the owner, Ken Stradling, took Wally aside to his private office and gave him some positive advice as to how he might improve his technique. Wally says he owes Ken Stradling a great deal.
1966. Wally moved to London with a new job, but continued with his new hobby, by now mostly in silver.
Henry Rothschild of Primavera Cambridge became a customer and proved to be yet another spur in the Booty story. The following is exactly how Wally relates this association.
“He was another early customer of mine in the pre-Booty days when I was still gluing watch movements to cufflink findings and bending silver wire. His Cambridge shop manager liked my work but was out of budget. I offered 24 pieces on S.O.R (sale or return) which he accepted – then I forgot about it…. A couple of months later I moved to a new job in London and lived in digs – with Richard Manger’s mum! – and when I got home from work one day, she said ” Wally, Mr Jewel rang and wants you to ring back urgently. He sounds awfully posh!” I hadn’t a clue who Mr Jewell was but when I rang back it was Henry Rothschild’s Primavera Cambridge manager. He’d shown my work to Vogue, who put in a photo with some editorial and they were flooded with orders. David needed 144 pieces by the week-end! Henry was a pottery freak as well and mounted/curated several exhibitions in Cambridge, London, Gateshead and probably elsewhere. Once, when I delivered some sloppy work to him, Henry was furious and gave me a thorough bollocking – but like Ken Stradling, he put me right and continued to buy from me. When, in 1971, Henry closed Primavera in Walton Street, David Jewell became our manager in Bond Street. He was delightful and I regret losing touch with him.”
Besides supplying the retail trade Wally took a stall at Portobello Rd. Within a matter of months his weekly Saturday takings exceeded his monthly salary working for an international oil company. With the opening of a new fashion market in Carnaby Street, Wally resigned his job, then, with another childhood friend, David Heard, opened a fulltime stall in Carnaby Market. Booty Jewellery was born.
Both Wally and David were aware of being very much beginners in jewellery making, so Wally and David decided to enrol at the then Sir John Cass College in Aldgate East for evening jewellery making classes, day classes being out of the question due to their Carnaby Market stall commitment. These classes were being tutored by the then manager of Andrew Grima’s shop, Ted Tuson. Ted displayed a wry sense of humour by christening Wally and David ‘the Carnaby Blacksmiths’! Wally says they learned much from him and remained friends for years afterwards, even after he retired from the Grima gallery and moved to Falmouth in Cornwall where he opened a shop of his own.
1967. The business burgeoned to the point that they opened, in Wally’s words, ‘a beautiful little shop’, Booty Jewellery, in Holborn. This was managed by Teri Whiten, who later reverted to her maiden name of Bullen. Wally is emphatic that her contribution to the success of Booty was enormous. She was loved by colleagues and clients alike. After leaving to look after her new-born son, she then studied at Central-St Martin’s School of Art, after which she became a teacher and successful artist in her own right.
1968/69. Wally first registered his WM (D) mark with the London Assay Office in 1968. The rapid expansion demanded more capital which is where businessman and philanthropist, Laurie Marsh, came in, having taken an interest in Booty’s work. Ownership of the business was divided equally between Wally, David, and Laurie. With Laurie’s backing and encouragement Booty opened a shop at 9-9a Bond St, and took a lease on a three storey workshop in Cowcross Street between Hatton Garden and Goldsmiths’ Hall. Laurie also urged participation in export ventures with the British Jewellery and Giftware Federation.
1970-75. Booty was to attract many artist jewellers who brought them their work. Janet Pollack was a mainstay and stalwart designer from the Carnaby Street days and throughout the company’s history. Hans Waller was their gifted main designer based in the Bond Street Studio, two storeys above the elegant retail shop. Waller had exhibitions of jewellery, sculpture and photography in Booty’s own gallery and at other locations nationwide including C. T. Gilmer of Bath during the Bath Festival.
Other gifted designers included David Cousins, Diane Featherstone, Norman Grant, Jackie Kitching, Carole Leonard, Clare Murray, Derek Randall, Tom Scott, Carolyn Stephenson, Geoff Suddock, Jens Torp, Helen Walker, and many, many more.
The enigmatic Hans “known at the time as GiGi” declined an invitation to become Design Director choosing to pursue an artistic career. Now in Berlin, he is widely esteemed with a presence on the Saatchi and Saatchi website.
When Waller left it was the Dane Jens Torp who became Chief Designer, joining from Argenta (Danish Silver Designs) of the Kings Road, Chelsea. Kjeld Jacobsen owner of Argenta was none too pleased at Jens move. Torp was to produce collections that were included in the Diamond International campaigns and promotions.
The success of Booty Jewellery rested not only on its original ‘in house’ designs and those by independent artist-jewellers throughout the country, but on its typically 60’s atmosphere where everybody mattered. Everyone in Booty had an important role to play:
“We pulled together and we all seemed to enjoy it. Through manufacturing, wholesale, and export as well as selling and promoting nationally and internationally through its own retail shops, the company was widely seen to ‘punch above its weight’. Fashion magazines constantly borrowed our work for photo shoots”.
Laurie Marsh sold his shareholding in the company in 1975, and the business was acquired by First Finsbury Trust- an old established investment trust committed to encouraging Booty to pursue its then course. First Finsbury Trust was then purchased in what was thought to be a hostile take-over by a multi-national company that quickly abandoned all the precepts that Booty stood for. It was then that the original founders Wally Morgan and David Heard resigned and went their separate ways, though remaining good friends to this day.
Dorrie Nossiter (1893-1977)
Born in Aston, Birmingham and her early life in Birmingham was spent living with her widowed mother, her father having passed away whilst she was still young. Dorrie was enrolled at the Municipal School of Art, Margaret Street, Birmingham from 1910-1914 and in her first academic year sat a number of Government examinations. Her mother remarried and the family moved to Dorset. There Dorrie married and then moved to London. Dorrie was commissioned to make a topaz necklace for the film ‘Cleopatra’ but it’s wherabouts is unknown. She also exhibited widely at the likes of the Walker Galleries, London, 1935, in ‘Art By Four Women’, with the exhibition being paid a visit by the then Queen. Dorrie exhibited there from 1935 to 1939. The work of Dorrie Nossiter and Sibyl Dunlop have previously been misattributed, often one confused for the other. But Dorries more floral and multigem style once seen a number times is something of a signature. For a very full and detailed background to Dorrie and her work visit http://www.dorrienossiter.co.uk/
Moshe Oved (1885-1958)
(Mosheh Oyved there are variant spellings of his name, his Polish surname was Gudak, and his anglicised name was Morris Edward Good) Born in Skepe, Poland, jeweler, artist, sculptor and Yiddish author.
Emigrated to England in 1903. Originally trained as a watch maker. He founded the shop Cameo Corner, in 1908 originally in New Oxford Street, moving in 1939 to Museum Street near the British Museum. Queen Mary was amongst his clientele, Queen Mary had a chair there soley for her own use!
He was an authority on antique jewellery, objects, cameos, antique watches and clocks. He designed his own extremely original jewellery, and sculpted a series of Jewish ritual objects. He was a founding member of the Ben Uri Society. He was also a writer and poet. His autobiography ‘Visions and Jewels’ was published in 1952. Moshe Oved was described by his publisher as ‘……….author, actor, jeweller, Zionist (and) also founder of the Ben Uri Gallery in London.’ Moshe was very interested in sculpture and produced several bronzes himself post World War II, including a memorial menorah for the holocaust victims. Signed on the base it had six branches (representing the six million), and on a base representing a Torah scroll, with a large bird covering them with it’s wings.
Moshe also collected the work of his friend Jacob Epstein. He helped the Ben Uri to purchase several significant works of art, and presented three busts by Epstein to the Society in 1946. Moshe married Gwendoline Ethel Rendle (1900-1983). Gwendoline took up the Jewish Faith and changed her name to Sah Oved. Between the years 1927 until 1937 the Oveds lived in Jerusalem, where they dealt in artifacts. They returned and the Oved’s remained in London during the war years.
Sah Oved (1900-1983)
Gwendoline studied jewellery making under John Paul Cooper the renowned Arts and Crafts jeweller silversmith until 1923. Soon after she met Moshe, she converted to Judaism and married Moshe, taking the Yiddish name Sah Oved. Her jewels were almost exclusively high carat gold, and were some of the most striking and original designs, often with allegorical aspects to Jewish life, history and religion. Often they were one off commissions, sometimes taking years in the making.
Nancy Cunard, the poet, political activist and boyish vamp of the 1920’s was one of Sah’s jewellery clients. By family repute most of Sah’s designs were executed prior to 1938.
Sah attended Central St Martins during the 1950’s to study silversmithing. One of Sah’s last works was the necklace on the tomb of Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey. Her jewels are extremely sought after. However some of Sah’s jewels have come up for auction in recent years. The most recent having originally been bought in the 1950’s from Cameo Corner by Mitzi Cunliffe, the American sculptress. Mitzi Cunliffe is probably best know for her iconic design of the BAFTA mask, one of the worlds most prestigeous film and television awards, although she too was adept at jewellery designs, along with ceramics and textiles.
Thomas (Tom) Payne (1935 – 2019)
Tom Payne was educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham. Tom was a talented artist winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. However, keen to return to the Midlands, he instead opted to study Industrial Design at the Leicester College of Art. An exceptional craftsman, in 1963 Tom, along with his contemporary Andrew Grima, was one of only four jewellers selected from the UK to exhibit work in the United States to showcase British talent.
Returning again to the Midlands, Tom produced studio-made pieces for the discerning collector with his partner Peter Trigg, having met at college. From this workshop they traded as Hephaestus (the Greek God of blacksmiths, metalworking, carpenters, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes).
Having registered their marks separately (T.A.P. and C.P.T. both in elongated ovals) their pieces often contain both their marks. This in its self is unusual as it is normal that partnerships have a single punch with a combination of initials, but not so in this case. I am unsure that the various hallmarking acts over the years would make provision for something like this. I can only assume that an agreement was arrived at with the Birmingham Assay Office to allow such an exception. I have had a gold brooch where the word ‘Hephaetus’ has been written in script in freehand on the back.
In the early 1980s Peter retired and Thomas opened a saleroom in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Tom was renowned for the quality of his work, sketching his customers ideas before creating unique pieces of the highest quality.
Tom’s pieces along with those in partnership with Peter Trigg from their Hephaetus days remain sought after by discerning collectors of contemporary jewellery.
Thomas Payne’s legacy continues through
John Pearson (1859-1930)
Pearson was the son of William Pearson, a journeyman broom maker, and Eliza, and was born in Lambeth.
An article in the Studio magazine in 1897 records that, before the founding of the Guild of Handicraft in 1888, Charles Ashbee, came upon Pearson who had one time been employed in William De Morgan’s tile works. He was ‘broken down in health and out of regular employment’ but had learnt to imitate De Morgan’s tiles in copper (having examined repousse metalwork of the Middle Ages in the British Museum).
Certainly, there are clear stylistic similarities between De Morgan and Pearson designs, with similar themes of galleons and fantastic beasts. The De Morgan tile works in Chelsea operated from 1872 to 1881, so presumably Pearson was out of regular employment in the early 1880s.
It seems that Pearson learnt his metalworking skills in the 1880s. It is unclear exactly how he received his training. It has been suggested he received training through the Home Arts and Industries Association, but there is little or no evidence to support this.
However there is some evidence that he learnt metalwork with the assistance of the social reformers, Henrietta and Samuel Barnett who were active in Whitechapel at this time. A John Pearson charger dated 23 December 1912 appeared for sale at Bonhams in July 2007 (the charger carries two John Pearson stamps). An inscription on the back records that this was a gift made by John Pearson for Dame Henrietta and Samuel Barnett whom they ‘discovered’ 30 years ago working as a Pickford’s van boy and whose ‘art power’ they had trained.
The Bartletts were responsible for founding Toynbee Hall in 1884, the idea of which, in essence, was that the middle classes would live in a settlement among the poor where they would become involved in social and educational work, including evening classes. A ‘top-hatty philanthropy’ as Ashbee put it.
Ashbee was closely involved with Toynbee Hall before setting up the Guild. Indeed it has been said that some, perhaps all, of the founding members of the Guild were drawn from Ashbee’s class at Toynbee Hall. (Certainly, the early years of the School and Guild of Handicraft are inextricably linked with Toynbee Hall. It was at Toynbee Hall, on 23 June 1888, that the School and Guild was formally opened.) John Pearson was one of the founding members of the Guild of Handicraft, together with Charles Ashbee.
Metalworkers were well represented – another metalworker, John Williams, was also a founding member. There is a picture of Pearson, with other members of the Guild of Handicraft, in 1892 – a bearded, slightly sullen figure, at the back of a group photograph. Pearson’s relationship at the Guild appears strained after a short period and he fell out with fellow workers. In 1890, according to the minutes of the Guild of Handicraft, Pearson had been found out supplying pieces to William Morris and others and had been employing two men to help him in metalwork outside the Guild. Also, it appears that Pearson was keen to promote his own craftsmanship and ‘brand’. The Guild did not normally identify which particular craftsman had made its pieces, but Pearson did not respect this. There are examples of signed Pearson pieces dating from around this time, for example a box with pomegranate decoration which is signed and dated ‘1891’.
In 1892, John Pearson resigned from the Guild, and shortly afterwards made his way to Newlyn, Cornwall, having been invited by John Drew MacKenzie, a young painter and designer, to join him in Newlyn where he would instruct the teachers in the Industrial Class set up to help young fishermen learn new skills. Moreover, Pearson was able to bring with him improved techniques, most notably the jealously guarded innovation of beating the copper out against a block of lead rather than the much less responsive pitch.
Pearson stayed in Newlyn for some six years, and the designs originating from his de Morgan days (mythological dragons, strange animals and birds, galleons, trees and fruit) can be seen in both his own work of this period and in the work of the students. He learned new and more local subjects derived from the sea and the local landscape.
Towards the end of the 1890s, Pearson returned permanently to London, and in 1901 acquired a new home and workshop in Hanway Street, St Pancras (W1), the 1901 census shows him as living there as a widower. He continued to teach from there, to decorate ceramics and to beat copper, and both Liberty and Morris sold his work in this period.
In 1929, he closed his workshop and retired to Canvey Island(Essex ), where, a few months later, he died. At his death, his occupation was described as ‘art connoisseur’.
OLE BENT PETERSEN (1938-1998)
Born in Denmark Ole began his training with P.E.Boesen, completing it in 1957, whereupon he went to study at the Danish College of Jewellery for two years. From 1959 until 1960 he studied silversmithing and commercial design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, receiving an award from the Council of Danish Goldsmiths at that time.
From 1960 he maintained his own workshop, but in 1978 he began an association with Georg Jensen producing his ‘Sunshine and Night’ range, featuring tables, chairs, chess tables and windows. This was something of the mark of the man, who seemed to have a playful attitude to creating jewels at times. Making a ‘coat hanger’ bangle, a bus ticket brooch, and a queuing ticket brooch.
He worked in gold, silver and plated metals and was known to produce diamond set jewels also. He also produced sculptures.
He was approached to be guest lecturer at the Danish Academy of Goldsmiths. He presided as a judge in many competitions as well as winning many international awards himself. Petersen has had a number of solo exhibitions internationally.
PLUS DESIGN 1958-78
The non-profit organization PLUS situated in ”the old town” in Fredrikstad, existed from 1958 to 1978. During these years a large number of products came out of this artist-colony consisting of designers and craftsmen working in the different worshops. Their aim was to create a collaboration between PLUS and the industry, and the workshops were among others, the glasshut, the silversmith, the basket weaver, furniture factory and the potters studio. The head of the silver workshop was Erling Christoffersen, who, together with his wife Anna Greta Eker, were the chief designers. The young Tone Vigeland joined Plus Design, and it was these three who were the stars of the company, which achieved worldwide acclaim with innovative modern silver designs, still much in demand today. The silver workshop closed down in the 1970’s. Another member of the team was Odvar Pettersen, who was the production manager, who also designed a couple of pieces. Most Plus Design pieces feature the signature of the designer as well as ND in a box and + in a box. The products of Plus for all the different disciplines display great quality and honest execution.
Jack Spencer (1934- )
(then becoming Jack Spencer (Silvermiths) Ltd)
Jack Spencer was born in Sheffield during the 1930s. At the age of eleven, he gained a place at Sheffield School of Art. He began an apprenticeship with the renowned firm Walker & Hall at the age of fifteen. After completing his national service, Jack returned to Walker & Hall, working on product development and the manufacture of prototype products.
Peter Vang (1943-2010)
1959: Apprentice at Georg Jensen.
1964: Graduated as a Silversmith.
1964: The Institute for Precious Metal, The Goldsmith High school, Copenhagen 1966 Graduated as a Goldsmith.
1966 -1968: Apprentice as Goldsmith and Jeweller in Schwäbish Gemünd, Germany.
1968: Opened his own workshop at Studiestræde, Copenhagen.
2003: Closed his Workshop and retired.
“Gold- and Silversmith in Denmark,” written by Vibeke Maarssø.
(Only available in Danish)
Tone Vigeland (b.1938)
Born in Oslo, the daughter of the artist Per Vigeland, is internationally known for both jewellery, metal based clothing design and sculpture. Graduating from Norway’s National College of Art and Design (1955-57) and the Oslo Yrkesskole (Oslo Vocational School)(1957) she became an apprentice silversmith at the Plus Design Centre in Fredikstad. There she worked alongside Erling Christofferson and his wife Anna Greta Eker. From apprentice she became journeyman, to mastersmith, forming her own workshop in 1962. However she did not sever her connection to Plus for a number of years, with Plus producing a number of her designs thereafter. She first visited London in 1978, where she made contact with Barbara Cartlidge of the Electrum Gallery, who took on some of her pieces on commission. Electrum put on her first UK solo show in 1981. In the 1980’s she began producing avant-garde unique art jewels, which gained her even more world wide recognition and enhanced reputation, with works by her present in many museum collections. Since 1995 Vigeland has turned her attention exclusively to sculpture.
SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, USA
Crafts Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan
Banner-Stiftung, Danner-Ritunde. Die Neue Samlung at Piakothek der Modern, München, Germany
Danish Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen, Denmark
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France
Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
2010 “New Works”, Galleri Riis, Oslo, Norway
2007 “New Works”, Galleri Riis, Oslo, Norway
2004 “Sculpture”, Galleri Riis, Oslo, Norway
2000 “Sculptures”, Galleri Riis, Oslo, Norway
1996 “Object”, Galleri Riis, Oslo, Norway
1996-1998 “The Jewellery of Tone Vigeland 1958-95”, Wichita Center for the Arts, Wichita, Kansas, USA; Museé des Arts Décoratifs, Montreál, Canada; Elvehjem Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, USA; Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design, New York, USA
WORK STILL IN PROGRESS