|Apart from the obvious appeal to collectors of the limited edition another old favourite had quite a boost during the last half of the 20th Century - and that was the commemorative issue and this was ideally suited to the independent silversmith. We had the Coronation, death of Churchill, Silver Jubilee, Investiture of the Prince of Wales, his wedding, birth of his children and so the list grew and so did the pieces issued to remember these events. The Caddy Spoon Society and Wine Label Circle commissioned for many of these and some exciting designs were issued. Then from the 1960's onwards goblets were an ideal format for the designer-craftsman.
By 1970 Graham Hughes, Art Director at the Goldsmith's Hall and Chairman of the Crafts Centre of Great Britain, initiated a series of one-man exhibitions celebrating the work of Benney, Devlin, Lawrence, Louis Osman and these continue to this day with Malcolm Appleby and John Donald being the last two honoured in this way. Goldsmiths Hall have also commissioned pieces over the years for ceremonial use or for their own permanent collection or for Livery and Hall Members. They have an excellent website at www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk which has extensive information on current silversmiths and publications they have for sale which are essential reading for anyone interested in this area, not only excellent value but well illustrated and very informative. Here you will be thrilled to discover, if you don't know them already, the work of Jocelyn Burton (b 1946), Wally Gilbert (b 1946), Alex Brogden (b 1954), Rod Kelly (b 1956), those mentioned already and so many, many more. The Hall also promotes the newer talent with an annual selling exhibition.
Many of the pieces created in the 1960's and '70's are just starting to reappear on the market for the first time second hand as owners die or downsize creating a whole new collectable field. Many of the limited editions were over-subscribed when they first appeared thirty years ago and with editions of 100-300 there are going to be less available now that are still in pristine condition so it has to be a strong collectable area. We are also talking about quality designers and silversmiths rather than the limited editions that followed after the initial success of this genre.
It doesn't have to be old to be good - don't forget that Paul de Lamarie, Paul Storr and Hester Bateman had their own patrons buying new silver from them.
In the 'Swinging Sixties' Britain not only led the world in Pop music with the Beatles - Fashion Design with Mary Quant - Football winning the World cup - but also Silver Design with 'Benney and the Jets.'