NAME THAT SPOON; Can you tell your Cuzner from your Knox? We delve into the complex world of antique cutlery with Arts and Crafts flatware expert Simon Moore.
Madam, sir, if you want to survive out there in the cut and thrust drama of the collecting world you have to specialise. Otherwise, you'll drown in a sea of well, silver that collectively makes no sense to anyone.
Problem is, there's so much choice. Apostle spoons, caddy spoons, love spoons, berry spoons, sugar sifter spoons, spoons for fruit, ice cream, mustard, even scooping marrow from bones, to say nothing of tourist souvenir spoons, tacky or otherwise.
Answer - find a type that suits your taste and pocket. Try looking at displays in museums, antique shop windows and visit collectors' fairs, notably the one next month at Antiques for Everyone at the NEC.
Notable, because Simon Moore, author of Artists' Spoons & Related Table Cutlery - A British History of Arts & Crafts Flatware will be there with an exhibition. He'll also be speaking in daily seminars about his passion for Arts and Crafts cutlery, and spoons in particular, the latter being clearly his specialisation. Follow his lead, it's not a bad place to start.
It's appropriate the exhibition is in Birmingham. With silversmithing at its heart, the city was once known as 'the workshop of the world'.
By the 18th century, it had become the main European producer of buckles, buttons and a range of small boxes, jewellery and accessories often called 'Brummagem toys'.
The industry was dominated by the manufacturers such as John Taylor (1711-1775) a former cabinetmaker who opened a factory employing 500 people, and the great Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), who managed his father's metalworking factory and went on to found the Soho Mint.
The role of the famous Birmingham Assay Office was also crucial to the story of silversmithing, underlining the city's importance to the country as a major centre of production and design. Opened in 1773, it greatly facilitated the gold and silver manufacturing industry, assuring the world of the quality of metals used. It continues today.
The famous Jewellery Quarter was home to a close-knit variety of specialist trades producing jewellery, silverware and small metalware, which in its heyday in 1913 saw 70,000 people employed in this sector alone.
Many of the factories were small family businesses, all vitally important to the city and a major source of export for the country, but it was also home to a large number of big silver manufacturers. One was W H Haseler & Co., specialising in gold and silver work and jewellery, at 16-26 Hylton Street. Much of the firm's success was Left from top: A charming cased set of spoons with heart-shaped bowls attributed to Cuzner; fine Arts & Crafts silver spoons designed by Albert Jones; a fine collection of Liberty's Cymric spoons.
down to the entrepreneur Arthur Lazenby Liberty (1843-1917) who had opened his remarkable department store for the upwardly mobile in London's Regent Street in 1875.
Liberty had a contract with the Manx designer Archibald Knox and Haseler was commissioned to put many Knox designs into production, notably the Celtic inspired Cymric range, introduced in 1902, and its pewter counterpart, Tudric.
Liberty augmented his team with spoons by Oliver Baker, of Stratford-upon-Avon, who was already working for Haseler's, having been recruited via Bernard Cuzner, another of Haseler's A silver spoon, Birmingham foliate decoration, Liberty's by designer and silversmiths.
Hasler's was not working solely for Liberty's during the Liberty Cymric period and Knox, Cuzner and Baker were all Hasleler's chief designers for spoons and flatware. Around 1910, they produced sets of gilt bowled teaspoons with long twist stems that terminated in a small gilt wire cage that contained a turquoise bead.
Liberty's contract with Haseler was terminated in 1926.
Bernard L Cuzner (1877-1956) was born in Alcester, Warwickshire and trained at the Birmingham-based School of Jewellery and Silversmithing in Vittoria Street.
He joined Haseler's in 1900, rising rapidly, but little is known of his earlier spoons and other flatware designs, either for Haseler's or Liberty. Most of the Haseler archive no longer exists, so attributions must be made via articles in The Studio art magazine or his slightly later (post 1912) work for Liberty's.
From an illustration in The Studio, he favoured a basic mediaeval format with "ficulate" bowl and a stele-like (narrow and non-tapering) stem but with added variations such as a mid-stem tulip. His slightly later style, from about 1910 onwards, often involved botanical motif engraving in the form of sinuous branches, alternating with flowers.
As his skills in goldsmithing developed further, he began to write a manual that was published in book form in 1935. This important tool to aspiring goldsmiths and jewellery makers ran to several editions.
hallmarked 1910 with typical designed for Bernard Cuzner There are numerous other Birmingham spoon makers but Albert Edward Jones (1878 - 1954) was among the most prolific. A member of the "Birmingham Group", artists craftsman who trained at the Birmingham School of Art, Jones probably met Cuzner during his apprenticeship before he set up in business in 1902 at 21 Holloway Head, trading as AE Jones Ltd.
He was a friend of the school's headmaster ER Taylor, who founded the Ruskin art pottery studio. As a result, Jones's spoon finials often bear Ruskin pottery cabochons.
A silver spoon, hallmarked Birmingham 1910 with typical foliate decoration, designed for Liberty's by Bernard Cuzner Sabra (1903) and Crocus (1912) enamelled teaspoons by W. H. Haseler Right: A finely enamelled fruit spoon designed by Archibald Knox for the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902 FACT FILE SIMON Moore's exhibition is titled A Spoonful of Arts & Crafts in the UK and will also feature the work of Robert Sidney Catterson-Smith; Arthur and Georgina Gaskin; Bernard Instone; Adolph Scott; Florence Stern; Robert Chandler and George Hunt and others from the Birmingham Guild of Handicrafts and the Bromsgrove School Guild, as well as spoons by Omar Ramsden, Archibald Knox, Charles Ashbee and the Guild of Handicraft from the Cotswold; the Dryad Metal Works in Leicester and Keswick School of Industrial Arts.
Antiques for Everyone fair, runs from April 5-8: readers get two tickets for the price of one (PS16 including parking) on production of a copy of this newspaper.