Silversmith William Devenport & Son A Brief History
The origins of the esteemed maker known as William Devenport began in early Victorian England in 1837. The firm was founded by Joseph Whitton after whom it was named. When William Devenport became a partner it was styled as Whitton & Devenport. Later on this jewellery concern was known as William Devenport and when his son joined the firm, William restyled the business name to William Devenport & Son.
The maker became particularly well known for their fitted dressing sets which were encased in smart leather clad cases. Each item was placed in a tight fitting custom made recess which would prevent the items from moving once the lid was closed. The silk lining of the lids was often padded with lambs wool to offer protection to the contents of the cases. Ladies and gentlemen's grooming sets were an ideal way to transport what was needed on the dressing tables of the well groomed who wished to travel.
There were a variety of different types of transport for well heeled Edwardians. Although many vehicles were horse-drawn, the towns and cities were served by train, tram and bus networks. Some families owned motor cars.
As you can see from the set below, the contents of a lady's dressing table could safely be transported to her holiday destination or when visiting the homes of friends & relatives.
The custom made recesses were usually clad with velvet.
Some items have much deeper dimensions. For example the powder / cream container and nail buffer which are shown are the top. The deepest recesses made for the buffer and powder tin are lined with royal blue silk because they extend right down to the wood at the bottom of the case. Whereas the other items rest on velvet clad wooden recesses on a board mounted inside the case.
EDWARDIAN DRESSING SET
In this era the clasps were usually quite ornate. This case has only one. Often cases of this size would have two elegant gilded brass clasps.
WILLIAM DEVENPORT LEATHER CASE
This elaborately wrought set is presented in the original superb leather clad case with hand tooled borders which have elegant floral motifs on each corner. The leather absolutely gleams as does the ornate gilt clasp.
ORNATE REPOUSSAGE HANDLES
This magnificent sterling silver Art Nouveau William Devenport hand mirror is adorned with floral chasing, scroll work & the original bevelled mirror.
1907 TRADE ADVERTISEMENT
This trade advertisement shows a small selection of the goods made for wholesale or export. Fancy silver goods such as hand mirrors, tea sets, salts, shaving brushes, manicure sets, vases, picture frames, shoe horns and button hooks were fashioned from sterling silver and also electro-plate.
The items featured on this trade advertisement are all embellished with electro-plated silver. These products were much more affordable than similar wares made exclusively from sterling silver.
So far we have only found one patent registered to this maker.
PATENT NO. 190628176
I, WILLIAM DEVENPORT of Silver Plate Works Northwood Street Birmingham in the County of Warwick Silversmith, do hereby declare the nature of this invention to be as follows: -
This invention is especially applicable to ordinary wine and spirit bottles or the like, when the usual cork has been withdrawn or form-any other vessels.
AUDREY HOUSE LONDON EC
As well as supplying the wholesale trade this company presented their silverware at elegant showrooms located at Audrey House, Ely Place, Holborn Place, London EC. They were known to have showrooms at this location between 1912-1913.
Marks for the firm were entered with the London and Birmingham assay offices.
The company helped with the war effort during World War I.
The middle section lists the war work and the section on the right lists the company’s usual work in peacetime as a manufacturing jewellery concern which was noted for its silverware and electro-plated goods.
In 1918 the employees located at the Silver Plate Works numbered 29 men and 39 women.
You can see from the next image the huge difference in style from the sinuous lines of the Art Nouveau era and the Art Deco era.
This sleek sterling silver case is ornamented with an engine turned hexagonal design.
ART DECO WILLIAM DEVENPORT CASE
This Art Deco case is such an elegant piece that it is ideal for either ladies or gentlemen. The lid, base and all sides are decorated with an engine turned design we have not seen before. This piece was assayed at Birmingham in 1930.
Joseph Whitton 1837
Whitton & Devenport
William Devenport & Son
William Deveonport & Co.