Henry Morley and His Stirling Landscape Paintings

Henry Morley was an influential Stirling artist. He was born in Nottingham in 1870 and trained in Paris before studying in Stirling with Joseph Denovan Adam the renowned painter of Highland Cattle. Henry Morley chose to live in the Stirling area and married the rectors daughter and artist Isobel Miller Hutchinson in 1901. Henry and Isobel Morley were leading lights in the arts & crafts movement, to the extent that they commissioned Crawford and Fraser to build the arts & crafts house, The Gables, St Ninians, into which they moved in 1910. It seems they were very much at the centre of Stirling society and entertained artist and designers at the heart of the Scottish arts and crafts movement such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The impact of the Henry and Isobel Morley in the area is still very evident even today with Morley Crescent in Stirling being named after them.

Henry Morley mostly painted recognisable Stirling rural landscapes, in which he often captured the work of agricultural labourers (See Figure 1 “The Horse Pond”). His work was well liked in the Stirling area and he sold many of his works locally via exhibitions at the Stirling Fine Arts Association held in The Smith Institute (now The Stirling Smith Art gallery & Museum). More recently (2005) the importance and popularity of his work was celebrated in a large Henry Morely dedicated exhibition in the same location.

The Horse Pond, Oil on Canvas, Henry Morley Circa 1934 1Figure 1 The Horse Pond, oil on canvas by Henry Morley. The painting depicts a Stirling rural scene agricultural workers watering horses at “The Horse Pond”. The painting is 14 inches (35.5cm) X 17 inches (43.18cm) and is presented in its original glazed frame. The reverse of the frame carries a label from the Stirling Fine Arts Association showing the title of the work (The Horse Pond), the artists name (Henry Morley), his address (The Gables, St Ninians, Stirling) and also the date of the exhibition (16th January 1935).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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William Comyns

The silversmiths firm of William Comyns was established in approximately 1859 and by the early 1880s had become notable because of the high quality decorative silver ware the company produced. William Comyns gained particular fame for pieces incorporating highly integrate designs and also for his silver and tortoise shell pieces incorporating William Comynshigh quality silver pique work. The popularity of William Comyns was aided by the company selling its products via prestigious London retailers such as Tiffany and Co, Henry Lewis, etc. The desirability of William Comyns silver and Tortoiseshell pieces was so great that William Comyns became the primary and most desirable producers of items such as the highly ornate tortoiseshell and silver clocks. Examples of these in good condition fetch very good prices at auction. William Comyns also collaborated with good porcelain  manufacturers such as Royal Worcester and Crown Staffaordshire to produce some wonderful silver and porcelain tea and coffee sets consisting of fine china coffee cans held within ornate silver holders presented on matching china saucers (Figure 3).

Figure 3 for Comyns BlogThere are collectors who specialise in William Comyns and because of this good pieces are steadily disappearing into private collections. This of course makes William Comyns silver quite hard to find with a consequent knock on effect in terms of value. However, it is still possible to acquire good pieces at reasonable prices, for example a late Victorian William Comyns Bonbon spoon (Figure 1) may be bought for between £150 – £200 and, a good Edwardian William Comyns silver and tortoiseshell trinket box (Figure 2) may be bought for between £450 – £550.  We try to ensure that  keep a number of Victorian and Edwardian William Comyns pieces in stock.

Rudolstadt Porcelain

The antique porcelain market in the UK is dominated by a combination of Chinese porcelain and English porcelain  from Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Derby. Strangely the English buyer of porcelain seems to be less well informed about continental porcelain. Thus in the UK porcelain from France, Germany and Austria is not always fully appreciated. Take for example Rudolstadt porcelain.  Although easily recognized by buyers in Europe and North America, Rudolstadt remains pretty much unrecognised in the UK, with some of the beautiful Rudolstadt blushware pieces being mistaken by British buyers for Royal Worcester!

Figure1aThe history of Rudolstadt porcelain goes back to 1869 when the German company Lazarus Straus & Sons (L.S.&S) was established to sell imported  ceramics. The Younger member of this partnership Nathan Strauss must have had a very good entrepreneurial mind because in 1874 it seems he managed to form a business agreement with none other than R.H.Macy’s & Co. For those not familiar with Macy’s, R.H.Macy is a mid to upper range US chain of department stores initially established by Rowland Hussey Macy who opened 4 dry goods stores between 1843 and 1855. These initial businesses failed but he eventually moved to New York where he opened R.H.Macy & Co on 6th Avenue. The business grew and despite some difficulties along the way gave rise to the huge chain store brand that Macey’s represents today.

This business relationship between Nathan Strauss and Macey’s allowed Lazarus Straus & Sons retail space in every Macey’s store, thus opening up the US export market.  This actually led to the formation of a US company, New York and Rudolstadt Pottery Co. Inc. 1882. This US company traded in the porcelain manufactured in and shipped over from the German factory, which functioned independently from its US partner.

Figure3aTo meet the growing demand of its growing export market Lazarus Straus & Sons expanded, Figure2aopening decorating studios in France and Bohemia giving rise to L.S.& S. Limoges’ and the Austrian ‘L.S.&S. Carlsbad. Both these decorating studios used their own decorators mark. However, the mark used in Germany revolved around a crown over a shield shaped lozenge containing the letters RW for Rudolstadt Works. Variations of this mark were used between 1895 and 1924, with a more ornate version being used between 1900 and 1918.

The quality of the porcelain and the quality of the painting was superb and Lazarus Straus & Sons porcelain rivaled the very best porcelain manufactured across Europe and the US. Take for example the lovely pair of Rudolstadt vases shown in Figure 1.  They are of a classical form  with a long  ovoid body extending up towards a partially fluted  neck. The form of the vases is finished with lovely ornate handles extending from the necks to the vase bodies.  The form of these vases alone is not only pleasing to the eye, but incredibly tactile. However the story does not stop there.  These blush ivory vases have been richly decorated with stunning flowers, and leaves with fine tube lining of the leaf veins in gilt and tube lining of the petal extremities to give the painting a rich almost three dimensional quality (Figure 2). Each vase is truly a work of art and caries the more ornate Rudolstadt  (figure 3) mark indicating a date of manufacture between 1900 and 1918.

The English Waltham Watches

by Morgan Denyer (Penrose Antiques Ltd)

Here is a bit of a horological heresey, the English Waltham! The Waltham watch company was steeped in American History, the company was founded by David Davies, Edward Howard and Aaron Lufkin Dennison who  in 1850 set up a company in Roxbury Massachusetts to manufacture watch parts. The company was reputedly set up under a cloud of secrecy because David Davies, Edward Howard and Aaron Lufkin Dennison were going to do something quite inventive, set up a watch manufacturing company in which all the components were made in their watch factory subject to strict quality control. This was quite unheard of and pretty much a world first. The watches they produced represented  a revolution in watch making, they could mass produce watches with interchangeable parts.

The first watches were made in 1852, and the company was named the Boston Watch Company in 1853. However the cost of production and retooling took its toll and the company was declared bankrupt resulting in the sale of the factory and larger machines to Royal E Robinns in 1857. He renamed the company Appleton Tracy & Company (ATCo) and retained Aaron Dennison as the factory superintendent. That year the company completed the development of the Model 1857 movement. By 1861 and the start of the American Civil War, ATCo had started to manufacture the William Ellery Model 57 watch. These watches were cheaply mass produced and became popular with Union soldiers who could buy them from roving merchants for a mere $13 or so. It seems that by the end of the civil war in 1865, the William Every Model 57 (Figure 1) accounted for 44.6% of the Waltham sales with the American Civil War Ellery watch serial number reaching around 161,000. (see  “Origins of the Waltham Model 57”   and “A closer look at a Civil War watch “ ).

Figure 1 Blog2Heated debate about the Ellery 57 Model watch represented a turning point in the career of Aaron Dennison. He fell out with Robinns in 1861 and Robinns eventually dismissed him for being a “vocal Dissenter” in 1862. One can imagine that this was a bit of a blow, but the success of the Ellery 57 and the perceived vindication of Dennison’s views seemed to drive him on to his next commercial venture.  In 1864 Dennison took the opportunity to set up the Tremont Watch Company with A. O. Bigelow. The idea here was to assemble watches in the US from fine parts sourced in Switzerland and larger parts sourced in America. Seemed like a good plan, but whilst Dennison was away in Switzerland organising the transport of components, his partners decided to move the company to Melrose and manufacture complete watches there. Needless to say Dennison was not pleased, he left the new company predicting utter disaster and moved to Birmingham England in 1871 where he established a watch case making business in 1872. His timing was perfect because of the opening in 1874 of the London office of the American Watch Company by N.P. Stratton, (assistant superintendant to Dennison in 1857, see “Watches Factories of America; Past and Present” by Henry G Abbott). Here was a ready market for Dennison’s cases and the person he had to convince of the value of his watch cases was none other than his old assistant superintendent at the American Watch Company. Unsurprisingly the majority of  the output of Dennison’s new watch case manufacturing business ended up being used by the London branch of the American Watch Company. What was particularly interesting about this though was that these early Dennison cases did not carry the Dennison makers mark, but AWCo, presumably because Robbins wouldn’t tolerate a Dennison makers mark on his watches.

Fig 2 Blog 2The association between the Dennison Watch Case Company and AWCo and the Later Waltham Watch Company, was maintained long after Aaron Dennison’s death in 1895. The success of this collaborative venture was exemplified by the Waltham Traveler (Figure 2). The Waltham Traveler consisted of a 7 jewel movement and was favoured for the export market in the early 20th century. Tens of thousands were sent to the UK where they were mostly cased in Dennison gold or gold plated cases. These watches were robust and many have survived in good working order. They represent a very good investment for those wishing to buy a good antique watch. The real benefit of these watches is that because they were mass produced, the parts are readily sourced and are fully interchangeable.

By the First World War Waltham had become a major supplier of watch movements in the UK, but the market was changing. Pocket watches were of little use in the trenches of the European battle fields and troops had started to modify their watches by the addition of wire lugs. Dennison, having his business located in the UK was in a prime position to take advantage of this. By 1914/15 Dennison had started to make transitional or trench watch cases consisting of what looked like pocket watch cases fitted with wire lugs (Figure 3). These were designed to fit Waltham movements and were a favorite with British officers heading of to war. The design actually gained such popularity with the conservative British that the Dennison transitional watch cases were made right through the 1920s and into the mid to late1930s. The latest example we at Penrose Antiques Ltd have encountered dated from 1938.Fig 3a

Post WW1 there were also drivers to further refine wristwatch design. This was very much a period of the tank watch, a design first created by Louis Cartier in 1917. Virtually all watchmakers leaped on the tank watch bandwagon, and Waltham, was no different. By the 1920s Waltham was producing a range of movements designed to fit slim rectangular dress watchcases. Many of these movements made it to the UK to be encased in lovely simple but elegant slim lozenge shaped curved art Art Deco Dennison cases.

In the history of watch making, many watch manufacturers had watch movements made to fit their watch cases, for example the American Ball Watch Company used Swiss made Avia watch movement. Thus one could argue that the Walthams assembled in the UK form English made Dennison cases represent a special bread of English Walthams. After all many of the Dennison cases, although designed to fit Waltham movements were also designed for the English market. For example the early trench watch cases made by Dennison specifically met the needs of the British heading off to the trenches. The design was only later adopted by Waltham in the US to meet the needs of American troops post April 6th 1917 when the USA entered the war. So perhaps Britain, via the efforts and perseverance of Aaron Dennison can bathe in a small portion of the glory of the historically great American Waltham Watch Company.

The association with Dennison and the English market may also have played a part in the eventual downfall of the Waltham Watch Company. The British were by nature very conservative, but the UK was a major market for Waltham. Perhaps to meet the needs of this market, Waltham maintained a more conservative output, and it may have been that the English conservative influence led  Waltham watches to be perceived as a bit boring in the home US market. This perception of conservatism was believed to have played a part in a decline of sales and the eventual bankruptcy of the Waltham Watch Company  in 1949 and closure of the American Waltham Watch factory in 1957.

The Great Ocean Liners Potter

The popularity of cruise holidays has grown in recent years and represents a continuation of a great elegant tradition, that of the great ocean liners of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Opulence was the word from luxurious fabrics to state of the art gadgets combined with the best dining experience and sumptuous state-rooms, the great age of the ocean liners was truly a Bishop & Stonier Water Jug and Bowl 1playground for the well healed traveler. Obviously only the best was good enough and this applied to everything, including the china. One major supplier of china to the luxury shipping industry was the company Bishop and Stonier. The company Bishop and Stonier was formed by William Livesley, Edwin Powell and Fredrick Bishop under the name of Livesley Powell & Co in 1851. Livesley and Powell were both potters, but Bishop was a lawyer who funded the operation. Much of their wares were shipped to the USA, for example in 1851 over one million items were recorded as having been shipped to New York. On Livesley’s retirement in 1866 the company name changed to Powell and Bishop. In 1878 Powell and Bishop were joined by John Stonier. John Stonier was a glass and china merchant based in Liverpool who had built up a considerable business fitting out the great liners of the day, including the ships of the White Star Line. In 1891 Stonier formed a new company with Duncan Watson Bishop using the trade mark Bisto incorporating the first two letters of both their names along with the Wand of Caduceus. Their advertising slogan was “The sun never sets on Bisto ware” and of course this implied a link with Bisto ware and the glamour of the great liners plying the oceans of the world. Stonier and Co was the supplier of china for the Titanic and unsurprisingly Bisto ware featured highly on board the ill-fated ship, including plates carrying the small pattern used in 1st Class along with the Delft pattern and Flow pattern used in 2nd Class. By the 1920s many producers of pottery had started to experiment with more flamboyant patterns and colours. Bisto was amongst these and produced a number of quite eye catching art deco bathroom sets (Figure 1) along with the now famed Aztec ware. Bisto was sold to George Jones & Sons in 1933 and they continued to use the Bisto mark until 1939. For more details about the china aboard the Titanic see “A look at the china patterns used on Titanic“. For more details about Bishop & Stonier marks see the Potters Index.

The Antique Cradle

Every antique dealer should have an antique cradle. It’s almost a rite of passage. However, it is very hard to say why. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that caring for a child is a prime instinct and that somehow a cradle in a display gives warmth, conjuring up the image of a safe, homely scene with the baby gentle being rocked to sleep by a doting parent. How cosey the scene seems! That the cradle conveys this image is set deep into our psyche, one only has to think of nursery rhymes “Rock-a-bye baby”. The concept of the crib even infiltrates our understanding of the very foundations of our society –  “the cradle of civilisation” for example.

A Georgian oak cradle, circa 1780.

Figure 1 A Georgian oak cradle dating from approximately 1780. This cradle is available at Carlton Fine Art and Antiques Centre, Salts Mills,

The cradle itself has been around for as long as we have existed, the prehistory cradles no doubt ranged from simple bark cradles to more sophisticated cradles not dissimilar to those produced today. The basic design being a box or receptacle that a baby can be placed in and easily rocked to sleep probably hasn’t changed for centuries. The cradle, along with a bed, has historically been one of the first items added to a household. By the 18th century cradles used by the wealthy became status pieces, many of the Georgian versions were sturdily made from hardwoods such as oak and mahogany and were designed with hooded ends and sometimes decorated with Gothic inspired spires and embellishments (Figure 1). These were large pieces of furniture made to last for years and they were passed on through families so becoming the cradle of the generations. However, fashions and styles change, and by the Victorian period cradles, although still following the same basic design, became softer, a trend that has continued through into the 20th and 21st Century.

This sort of brings us back to the original question – why should an antique dealer have a cradle in a display? I think the answer lies in the fact that a cradle calls to the innate parent in all of us.

Diana Princess of Wales and the Victorian Silversmiths Cornelius Saunders and Francis Shepherd

History is a funny thing, simple actions can, by playing a part in big historical events at a later date have significCornelius Saunders and Francis Shepherd Blog Imageant implications in the long term. Take for example the jewelery company Saunders, Shepherd & Co Ltd.

Saunders, Shepherd & Co Ltd was established in 1869 by Cornelius Desormeaux Sanders Sr and James Francis Hollings Shepherd in 1869. Although a big event for them, in the grand scheme of things the registering of a company happens all the time and is really a pretty minor event. However, in this case the small event lead to great things. Cornelius Saunders and Francis Shepherd were silver smiths and jewelers who had quite an inventive turn of mind. In 1889 they invented the Krementz, a patent one piece shirt stud and also the self closing bracelet. In 1893 they registered their silver mark CS*FS (Figure 1) and used this to make high quality heavy grade silver items such as the the charming Stirling silver mustard pot shown in Figure 2. By 1899 they had become recognised as goldsmiths, jewelers, silversmiths, gem ring and gold chain makers, particularly specialising in silver, jet and onyx jewellery for the export market. They evenFigure 3 Diana's Bracelettually changed the company name to Saunders, Shepherd & Co Ltd in 1916, by which time they had established factories at 58-61 Fetter Lane, London, 94, Vyse Street, Birmingham and a branch at 62, Buchanan Street, Glasgow. Between then and the 1940s the company started to lead on jewellery design and also started to import and manufacture watches. However, Saunders, Shepherd & Co Ltd had a rough time during the depression of the 1930s and during WW2, with their London premises being badly bomb damaged in in 1941. By 1945 the company was down to just 30 employees, but it recovered eventually moving to 1 Bleeding Heart Yard, London in 1980.

In 1981 the future of Saunders, Shepherd & Co Ltd seemed secure, they were commissioned to make an 18ct gold bracelet for Lady Diana Spencer who wore it on the day of her wedding to Prince Charles on July 29th of that year (Figure 3). Since then the company has grown from strength to strength, they now  concentrate on the design of high quality jewelery. They were joined by Eterna watches in 1996. They are also the exclusive distributors for Fope Jewellery of Vicenza, Italy, they export to the USA and have launched watch brands such as Bergerie and SandS. They are now based at their new factory in Albion Street, Birmingham and are thriving.

Joseph Lang and the Sporting Gun

My husband is always telling me that we need to stock more mantiques, mantiques being those antiques that are of particular interest to men. With this in mind we have acquired a rare Victorian deactivated sporting gun (with an accompanying deactivation certificate) by Joseph Lang (Figure 1).

Joseph Lang was a very influential figure in country sports and the development of recreational guns. He first set up his own business the “Gun and Pistol Repository” in 1821, eventually buying out the entire stock of his prior employer the gunmaker Alexander Wilson in 1825 to becomes Londons largest gun dealer. During this time Joseph Lang sold the highest quality sporting guns, including those produced by James Purdey. His association with Purdey steadily strengthened with Joseph Lang marrying Purdey’s daughter Eliza in 1828.  Joseph Lang’s first son Joseph was born in 1829, and his second son James was born in 1835. Joseph the younger was then apprenticed to James Purdey and Joseph the younger then joined his fathers business in about 1853.Joseph Lang 1

Figure 1 Joseph Lang Sporting Gun

Joseph Lang the elder was renowned for playing a key part in introducing the breach-loading gun to British sportsmen. Prior to this guns were loaded the traditional way via the muzzle and these new fangled breach loading guns steadily creeping into use on the continent were viewed with scorn. Joseph Lang didn’t really agree with this, and in a radical move started to manufacture high quality breach loading shot guns for the British market. Being a businessman with a good view on taking commercial opportunities and being recognised as a very good shot, he then went on to prove the value of the breach loader in shooting competitions in which he out-shot competitors who used the old fashioned muzzle loading guns.  Needless to say, demand for his guns increased and he provided custom made guns to leaders in Victorian society, including the Prince of Wales in 1868.

Our particular example is a hammer action 12 bore shot gun with intricately engraved double barrels. The gun carries the makers name Joseph Lang (Figure 2a and 2b). along with the serial number 3834, dating it to 1867, the year before the Prince of Wales bought his Joseph Lang. This gun will be for sale at the Wetherby Antiques Fair on the 27th and 28th of July 2013, and potentially for sale if we still have it at the Stafford Bingley Hall Antiques Fair on the 9th, 10th and 11th of August 2013. Come and see and get a 20% discount on this gun or any other item of our stock if you can tell us you have read our WordPress blogs.

Josph Lang 3Joseph Lang 2

Figure 2a showing a closeup of the firing assembly and ejector system, 2b shows the makers name Joseph Lang.

For further information on Joseph Lang, see Best Guns by Joseph McIntosh

The Penrose Antiques Ltd Ruby Lane Shop

Well things have changed, our Ruby Lane shop has grown substantially and the number and range of stock items available has increased tremendously.  We now have a range of silver by excellent silversmiths such as the Bateman family and William Comyns. We also stock lovely porcelain including Royal Worcester, Old derby, first period Worcester and Crown Staffordshire to name but a few and pottery from makers such as Davenport, Doulton, Allerton, Spode and  Elsmore & Forster. We also have some lovely glass, 18th Century English Delft, high quality vintage watches (including military watches) and a few boxes, although good boxes seem to fly out almost as fast as we find them. At the moment we have a truly beautiful Regency rosewood and mother of pearl twin chamber tea caddy complete with the typical Georgian wooden ring handle and  typical elegant Regency moldings, see below. Boxes link this are normally quite distressed or have been questionably renovated, but this one is a real peach and in a lovely original condition. The stock is changing on an almost daily basis so it is definitely well worth visiting on a regular basis.Regency Tea Caddy 1a

The Influence of Chamberlain and Grainger on the Evolution of Royal Worcester

Robert Chamberlain, the head of the decorating department for Dr John Wall the founder of the Worcester porcelain company, established his own company at Warmstry House, King Street, Worcester. This new company initially painted blanks manufactured by other companies, but steadily expanded into the manufacture of his own wares. By the Regency period Chamberlain Worcester had acquired some fame for the very quality of his hand painted porcelain. His clients included Lord Nelson, and also the Prince Regent who granted the company his Royal Warrant in 1807. Chamberlain’s success was reflected in the way that he sold his wares via his shop at 33 Worcester High Street and via his fashionable London show room, initial set up at no 63 Piccadilly but eventually moving to 155 New Bond Street in 1816. Needless to say Chamberlain porcelain became a significant rival of Flight Bar and Grainger.Chamberlain Worcester Cabinet Plate 1

 

 

 

Figure 1: A Chamberlain & Co Worcester Cabinet plate dating from between 1840 and 1852. This plate can be purchased from our Ruby Lane shop.

By the early mid 1800s competition and changes in the economic climate meant that the ceramics industry had changed. To accommodate this change Chamberlain merged with Flight, Barr & Barr, giving rise to Chamberlain & Co in 1840. The new company continued to produce very high quality hand painted porcelain until 1851 (Figure 1). In 1851 Walter Chamberlain retired and the company was taken over by the Dublin business man William Kerr. Kerr invested heavily in modernizing the Chamberlain factory and building up an extremely talented team. Kerr returned to Ireland in 1862 leaving the company in the hands of Richard Binn, who formed The Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. Ltd, which of course evolved into Royal Worcester.Grainger Bird Plate 1

Figure 2: A Grainger porcelain cabinet plate dating to 1896 painted with what look like finches in a mystical woodland scene. This plate can be purchased from our Ruby Lane shop.

Another important Worcester porcelain manufacturer that played an important part in the development of Royal Worcester was Granger & Wood. Thomas Grainger, an apprentice at Robert Chamberlain’s Worcester china factory, and John Wood established Grainger & Wood in 1801. They produced very high quality ornamental porcelain using rich patterns that competed with Chamberlain and Flight Barr. The Grainger & Wood china works moved to St Martin’s Gate in 1809 following a factory fire. By 1839, the factory was owned by George Grainger (Thomas Grainger’s son) and started to produce exquisite Neo-Roccoco style decorative china. In 1889, following the death of George Grainger, the factory was sold to Royal Worcester.Worcester Grainger Reticulated Vase 1899 1

Figure 3: A beautiful Grainger & Co reticulated vase by Alfred Barry dated to 1899. Note the typical curvilinear design. This vase can be purchased from our Ruby Lane shop.

During this time Granger & Co continued to make high quality ornamental ware including cabinet plates (Figure 2) and beautiful Reticulated (Pierced) wares (Figure 3). During this period the Grainger reticulated porcelain was mostly the work of Alfred Barry. He produced pierced wares with quite a distinct and incredibly beautiful curvilinear design (Figure 3). Grainger reticulated wares of this quality are becoming quite hard to find.

Royal Worcester continued to produce extremely high quality Grainger china at the St Martin’s Gate factory (then called the Royal China Works) right up until 1902.

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