Ramsden & Carr | Rivalry & Friendship in British Silversmithing

Ramsden & Carr | Rivalry & Friendship in British Silversmithing

An extraordinary Arts and Crafts silver christening bowl by Omar Ramsden and Alwyn C E Carr will be sold in Day One of our upcoming auction of Design on Tuesday 17 May.


3 May 2022

Born in Sheffield in 1873, Omar Ramsden has become synonymous with the pinnacle of Arts & Crafts silver and the origin of Modern British silver design of the 20th century. Training under his father as a silversmith along with evening classes at Sheffield School of Art where he studied design, he would lay the foundation of a professional career redefining British silver.

It was at the Sheffield School of Art where he would meet Alwyn Carr, establishing a rivalry-turned-friendship and business partnership, which would push the two students to the peak of their creativity. The pair won their first big commission in 1898 with their design for the mace of the city of Sheffield in an open competition hosted by the city council. Their victory not only won them renowned status but also allowed them to open their first studio in Chelsea.

 

 

Prior to the opening of their Chelsea workshop in 1898, the pair went on an extensive European tour, exposing them to the emerging idioms of the continental Art Nouveau. These were brought back and incorporated with the medievalist and gothic motifs of the Arts & Crafts movement, which had defined British design of the latter part of the 19th century and saw the studio at the forefront of modern trends and designs.

With most of the metalwork carried by workshop assistants, Ramsden and Carr predominantly focused on the design and marketing aspects of their studio. In response to this, they saw tremendous desirability for their pieces, particularly among the upper echelons of London’s social circles for which they were often commissioned to design and manufacture bespoke pieces. The present studio (St Dunstan's on the Fulham Road), would eventually become a hub for clients and admirers, attending in an almost salon-like fashion.

Sworders are delighted to be offering this extraordinary christening bowl, lot 37 in our upcoming Design sale, likely commissioned by one such client. Dated 1901 and with its simple, yet elegant, scroll wound mulberry tree decoration, it is indicative of the early development of their signature style and the immediate response to it.

 

Omar Ramsden Christening Bowl Collage

An Arts and Crafts silver christening bowl,
by Omar Ramsden and Alwyn C E Carr, London 1901,
the sides with embossed decoration of mulberries and thistles, with dedication in relief reading 'I was wrought for Sadie Searles Wood by Command of her Godmother Elizabeth Wood, July 10th 1901',
15cm diameter, 10.22ozt

£500-700

 

Their mutual partnership came to an end in 1919, after which both makers carried on the trade within their own respective practices. Ramsden would carry on the style defined by himself and Carr for the rest of his career and in the process, he would take on several apprentices who, on the back of his teachings, would come to define the next generations of Modern British silversmiths, including William Bennet and Leslie Durbin.

Despite epochs and fashions coming and going throughout the remainder of his career, the desirability for the unique style defined by Carr and Ramsden almost two decades earlier continued to persist, with both public and private commissions undertaken. The current market has shifted little on Ramsden’s contribution to British silver making, with prices being driven by immense collectability, quality craftsmanship and a style prevailing in a century of fashion and fads.

 


 

Do you have a piece of Arts & Crafts silver that you would like to be valued? We would love to discuss it with you. Please contact the department -

E: design@sworder.co.uk

T: 01279 817778

 

 

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