Posted 5 years ago
These copper plates were found in the bowels of an old Silversmiths' workshop in the Jewellery Quarter, in Birmingham. They were found when the derelict workshop was being cleared (below ground with narrow strip, metal grilled, high opaque windows, and very, very dusty & "musty"!).
They where behind the back of an old wall fixed workbench and cupboard, alongside other discarded bits of detritus. They were so messed up and filthy, they were very nearly thrown in the skip without a second glance. A member of the family that had been the buildings' owners for best part of 150 years; said he thought they might date back to the late 19th Century, and we were quite welcome to them! That particular room had only been used for storing "junk" since the time when many of the men had enlisted in the early years of the Great War!
These are obviously monograms engraved by a skilled artisan, but my question is would these have been executed on copper before engraving on the Sterling Silver items, in case of "slips" or "mistakes"? (See..next)
Or; were they practice pieces of an especially skilled apprentice before he was let loose on the Silver? (The answer is "Yes"; copper is apparently used for practice, in leu of more expensive silver because of it's similar hardness...... see the comments below and on the second post)
Or could they be "style samplers" for patrons to choose the script they wished engraved on their precious object? This latter, is raised as a possiblility, as the nearest plate in the first photo above; has a hole carefully drilled in each of the four corners...perhaps for fixing up on the workshop or foyer wall so clients could see the styles more easily? (The answer is "No"...... see the comments below and on the second post)
All help and insight was much appreciated on these mystery finds from the world famous but gradually vanishing historic Jewellery Quarter in the English Midlands.
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