London is a city steeped in historical guilds and trade, and has been at the centre of silversmithing for centuries. Dating back to medieval times, the city has been a hub for skilled silversmiths catering to aristocrats and royalty, with the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths playing a pivotal role in elevating the craft following its foundation in the 14th century.
Throughout the Georgian and Victorian eras, London’s silversmiths received international acclaim for their intricate designs, with renowned artists like Paul de Lamerie and Hester Bateman securing a lasting legacy with their silverware. Silversmithing has evolved to embrace both traditional and contemporary styles, but London’s reputation for history makes it possible to get a glimpse of the techniques of the silversmiths who pioneered the methods still used by our master craftsmen. If you’re at a loss for something to do in the coming weeks, why not take a tour of London’s exquisite silver collections?
“The V&A cares for over 10,000 objects in silver and gold, from many parts of the world, and has more English silver and a greater range of objects than any other public collection worldwide.”
The perfect place to start a journey into London’s silversmithing heritage. With an extensive collection dating back to the 14th century, the V&A is a treasure trove of pieces crafted by skilled artisans throughout the ages. In the silver gallery here, you’ll find ornate tableware nestled amongst intricate sculptures. From English table centrepieces fashioned from silver and glass, to robust Swedish beer tankards, charming 18th century baby rattles and a soup tureen presented to the Duke of Wellington by the Portuguese government - the collection is dizzying, and a testament to the versatility and enduring beauty of silver.
“Internationally recognised, the Goldsmiths’ Company has one of the finest collections of silver made in Britain, numbering some 8,000 examples from 1350 to the present day.”
As the historic home of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Goldsmiths’ Hall is a place of reverence for silversmiths and goldsmiths alike. The museum showcases both historic and contemporary silver collections, including the annual Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Awards Exhibition, which takes place in the spring of each year. If you’re passionate about silversmithing, the event is well worth attending, but Goldsmiths’ Hall is worth a visit year-round, with the Curator working in consultation with specialists and leading craftsmen to find, purchase and commission new pieces for the collection each year - including pieces from our collection, as seen in the 2018 Exhibition, Grant Macdonald — International Silversmith.
“Nestled in the heart of London, beneath Chancery Lane, the London Silver Vaults offers the largest retail selection of fine antique and contemporary silver in the world.”
Stepping into the subterranean wonderland of the London Silver Vaults is a uniquely exciting experience for collectors and lovers of silver. The Vaults first opened in 1885 as The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit, but it quickly became a selling space for London’s most renowned silver and jewellery dealers. Currently housing the largest collection of antique silver in the world, overseen by over 30 specialist dealers, it’s currently possible to explore a vast selection of silverware, from antique Georgian pieces to Art Deco masterpieces.