An arts and crafts silver Plate marked by C.J. Plucknett.
A small silver Plate in the arts and crafts manner, London 1904.
The mark of C.J. Plucknett and the mark of C.J. Plucknett and Company, which was registered with the London Goldsmiths’ Company on 15th December 1915, remain a puzzle. The marks appear on a variety of silver and silver-mounted pieces, all made in the arts and crafts manner – some of these can be seen on this website either in the current or ‘archived’ sold stock. However, the nature of the firm of Plucknett suggest no particular connection with the arts and crafts movement: they were suppliers of silversmiths’, jewellers’ and enamellers’ equipment [see: the’Manual of Practical Enamelling‘, Published by C. J. Plucknett & Co, London, 1917] and materials and they diversified into supplies for dentists.
Charles John Plucknett was born in Lambeth, Surrey, in 1859, the son of Charles Plucknett, described in the Census returns as a ‘chain lawyer’, and his wife Mary Ann. By 1881, Charles John was a shopman, lodging in Clerkenwell Green and in 1891 he had become a ‘Jewellers’ Material Dealer’, married and living in Beversbrook Road, Islington. A possible first noting of Plucknett’s mark is on a finely worked gold-mounted plaque, inset with a lock of hair under glass, and chased with ‘William Morris 1884 – 1896’ above stylised roses, which is in the Victorian and Albert Museum [M33-1939] and which was bequeathed by May Morris. The museum’s notes state that the mark is perhaps that of C.J. Fox but that appears to be a misreading because the part of the mark that is visible looks very much like that of ‘C.J.P’, London 1896/7 and, indeed, the mark of Plucknett is listed by the museum as a possible maker of this piece. The museum notes go on to state that the chaser of the plaque was Robert Catterson Smith, born 1853, and the designer Philip Speakman Webb [1831-1915]. Catterson-Smith is known to have been an artist who became a largely self-taught silversmith, who worked for William Morris from 1893, and was a member of the Art Workers Guild.
It is also clear that the Plucknett mark was used on pieces designed, and very probably made, by Florence Rimmington – see a set of six spoons in the archived section of this website, which are also illustrated by Simon Moore, ‘Artists’ Spoons and Related Table Cutlery’.
The probable conclusion must be, therefore, that the mark of Plucknett, and later of Plucknett and Company, was used as a mark of convenience in the assaying of pieces by a variety of arts and crafts silversmiths. The company, at the time of the registration of the 1915 mark, lists Charles and Richard Comyns and Frederick Harvey as the workmen in the Poland street premises. As sons of William Comyns, Charles and Richard were also part of the partnership of William Comyns and Sons from about 1885. Francis Harling Comyns had joined Plucknett’s business in 1891. The premises, at 29 Poland street, were shared with the silver mounters Robert Victor Dumenil from circa 1913. There is clearly scope for more research into the connections of Plucknett and Plucknett and Company with the arts and crafts movement.
Good with minor surface wear.
Diameter – 19.70 cm.; Weight – 193.60 gms.