Art nouveau, Arts and crafts
Price range: £1,650
For sale is this very interesting Canadian silver ceremonial trowel providing a window onto Canada’s industrial past. The trowel is made by Birks, and dates to 1901. The trowel celebrates the laying of the corner (foundation) stone of the Gault Mills, Valleyfield. Valleyfield is just south of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. The trowel handle is topped with a well modelled and very appealing beaver on logs holding a branch.
The trowel carries the following inscribed inscription:
“THIS TROWEL WAS PRESENTED TO AF GAULT ESQ, President Montreal Cotton Co, ON THE OCCASION OF THE LAYING OF THE CORNER STONE OF THE GAULT MILLS, VALLEYFIELD, SEPTEMBER 5TH, 1901”
The Gault Mills were a massive industrial complex and leading Canadian cotton manufacturer owned by the Montreal Cotton Company (see link). Andrew Frederick Gault was the founder – see this link for more information on him from Wikipedia. For more information on the cotton mill see this link from the Valleyfield local museum, Musee de Societe des Deux-Rives. The mills ceased production in the 1980’s and are now a major civic, leisure and residential complex.
The trowel is also an early example of Birks silverware – the famous jeweller and silversmith still present in Canada today and founded in 1879 – see this link. The marks are slightly obscure but the lion sterling mark for Birks’ silver is still clear.
The condition of the trowel is excellent. The beaver finial to the handle is slightly mis aligned. There is some damage to the wood below the finial and it is possible there was a silver cap on the handle at some point though it looks all “correct” as it is today.
For more information on ceremonial trowels see my article published in the Silver Society Journal at this link.
Date : 1901
Marks: Birks, other Birks marks
Material: Sterling silver
Size: 28cm long
Weight : 256 grams, 9.0 oz (including handle)