A Florence Harriet Steele silver centrepiece

Price range:  Sold

For sale is this sculptural centre piece by Florence Harriet Steele, dated 1908.  The design was exhibited at the New Gallery Summer Exhibition, 1908 (with a silver or metal liner) and published in the Studio, Volume 44, issue 183 page 56, see images.

The Studio described Steele’s work at the Exhibition as follows: “Perhaps the most graceful figure work is that of Miss Florence Steele on vases, cups and caskets, showing strength, knowledge, and a definite tenderness of feeling. The way in which the given spaces are filled show her to be a designer of skill”.

The bowls inscription reads “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may – old time is still a flying”, from the famous 17th century poem by Robert Herrick.  See link for more details.

The bowl is well cast and modelled and of a very heavy gauge of silver. It is fully hallmarked for Birmingham 1908, David and Maurice Davis.  They described themselves as “Artistic Jewellers” and almost certainly acquired the centrepiece from Steele for resale.

The centrepiece is inscribed discretely to the underside of the base “From Alfred Hickman to his first grandson, Alfred Charles Simonds, February 2nd 1910”. Sir Alfred Hickman was a leading industrialist and M.P, his first great grandson was borne to his eldest son Alfred’s younger daughter, Evelyn, who married Charles Francis Simonds in 1907.

See “additional information” below for more detail on Steele.  In her day she was a highly regarded sculptress, medallist and metalworker.

Maker: Florence Steele / David and Maurice Davis

Designer: Florence Steele

Date : 1908

Marks: D&MD, Birmingham, 1908.

Material: Sterling silver

Condition: Excellent, replacement glass liner

Size: 15 cm high, diameter 19cm, exc glass

Weight : 1373 grams, 48.3 oz (silver only)

SKU: A389 Category:


Florence Harriet Steele was born in Reigate, Surrey. She was the daughter of John S. Steele (born c.1810), a general practitioner. Florence lived at home with her family for many years (her mother was an invalid from about 1881). For many years she lived at 63 Rowan Road, Fulham.

Florence was taught by Edouard Lanteri at the National Art Training School where her contemporaries included Margaret Giles, Ruby Levick, Lilian Simpson and Esther Moore. Florence Steele was a prize-winning student and her sculpture was included in a retrospective show of works submitted in the ‘National Competition of Schools of Art’ (1896). In 1900 she was awarded a prize of £10 for a plaster for faience at an exhibition organised by the Founders’ Company.

Steele was commissioned by William Burton of Pilkington’s Tile and Pottery Company to design tiles for the company. Several examples of Steele’s designs were exhibited at the Paris International Exhibition in 1900 including ‘The Rose’ and ‘The Sweet Pea’ which were panels each made up of two six by six inch tiles. In addition two twelve by six inch tiles called ‘Welcome’ were shown. A further two twelve by six inch tiles entitled ‘Women’s Work’ were also presented. Examples of her tile work are to be found at The Peter Scott Gallery John Chambers collection where copies of the plate and cast are held.

Steele went on to specialise in metalwork and designed for Elkington’s and possibly Barkentin and Krall also. Her art metal work for Elkington covered the period 1899 up to around 1910.  Her work in silver for Elkington was displayed at the 1903 Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, receiving extensive coverage. Overall her work is cited over 50 times in the Studio and other Journals of the period.

Additional information


Art nouveau, Arts and crafts