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BENNEY & the JETS

(Code: 1335)

Post War British Designer Silversmiths

by Derek StylesThe Second World War had a disastrous effect on British silversmithing for several reasons apart from the obvious fall in demand. Many of the older professionals were used for precision work in other trades; the younger ones were called up for active service; supplies of precious metals had run low; Sheffield and London, including Goldsmiths Hall, had suffered severe bomb damage. Purchase Tax was increased to 110% even if you could find the items to buy. Just before the war in 1938 Edward Spencer (b 1873) of the Artificers Guild had died followed in 1939 by two of the most important pre-war British designer-silversmiths, Omar Ramsden (b 1873) and H G Murphy (b 1884) then Alwyn Carr (b 1872) in 1940. Some designer-silversmiths who were working before the war successfully revived their businesses when it was over, like R E Stone (1903-1990), Leslie Durbin (1913-2005), Dunstan Pruden (d 1974), Bernard Instone (1891-1987), George Hart (1882-1973) of the Guild of Handicraft and J P Steele (1) who was an artist/craftsmen working in Letchworth.