I am delighted to have this exceptional Dryad / Collins & Co copper and silver casket for sale from the heart of the Leicester arts and crafts movement.
The casket is inscribed:
“GIVEN TO W H PICK FEB 1OTH 1904.
WRITE INJURIES IN DUST.
KINDNESSES IN MARBLE”
February 10th 1904 was W H Pick’s wedding day so this is most certainly a wedding gift to him. The phrase, of Persian origin, clearly provides some very good advice on how to have a happy marriage.
W H Pick is William Henry Pick (1878-1949), born in Blaby near Leicester. In the 1901 census Pick is listed as an Architects Assistant, boarding in Leicester with his good friend Benjamin Fletcher, Headmaster of Leicester Municipal School of Art (now part of Leicester Demontfort University). By 1903 Pick had joined the Leicester metalwork firm of Collins & Co which later became Dryad Metalworks in around 1912. At Collins & Co and Dryad Metalwork, Pick was the lead designer and manager and a key figure in the Leicester arts and crafts movement alongside Benjamin Fletcher, and Harry Peach, founder of Dryad Handicrafts, the eponymous maker of cane furniture and other items which became a substantial enterprise in the inter-war period.
Both as Collins & Co and then Dryad Metalwork, Pick exhibited extensively at the various arts and crafts exhibitions, most notably in the 1903 and the 1906 Arts and crafts Exhibition Society exhibitions (exhibits 285,297a, 357, 391 b & bb, 393 r & s, 395 v) where his work is listed as being made by Robert J Emerson (later a leading sculpture, metalworker and teacher in Wolverhampton) and Alfred H Jephcott who remained a key Leicester metalworker – see this link to A778b on this website which covers his biography.
On 10th February 1904 Pick married Isabel Maud Tindall (1877- 1956). She was born and lived in Market Harborough, near Leicester and the 1901 census reveals that she was a designer and art teacher at the Leicester School of Art. She is mentioned a number of times in the Studio competitions at this time. She was a good friend of Benjamin Fletcher and/or his wife, being a witness to their marriage in 1902, and at the same church where she later married Pick in 1904.
The maker and gifter of this casket is not known for certain. The casket is unmarked. Stylistically this casket is unlike any made by other familiar arts and crafts makers. It has a modern take on the ball and claw foot that I have never seen before, it uses applied silver to highlight the lid’s inscription, and also the shoulders of the legs and ball feet. The clasp is also unusual and very well made. The enamels are simple and not Ruskin stones.
Given this was clearly a substantial gift, undoubtedly by a close friend of Pick’s, I am confident that the most likely attribution is that the casket was designed by Benjamin Fletcher and made by Pick’s co-workers at Collins & Co, one or more of Emerson and Jephcott. This view is reinforced by the image of a casket Fletcher designed in 1914 for Sir Edward Woodthat was illustrated in the Studio Yearbook of Decorative Art, 1914 (Page. 87) that shows very similar style text to the lid. See images. Pat Kirkham in her 1986 book about Harry Peach commented that it was both Pick and Fletcher who designed the presentations caskets that were made at the Dryad Metalworks.
Dryad was a commercial venture, similar to the Guilds that were established, set up in 1907 by Harry Peach, who in turn was highly influenced by Benjamin Fletcher who headed the Leicester School of Art. The two institutions retained close links and overlapping personnel for their duration. Leicester itself was an active outpost of the arts and crafts movement with Ernest Gimson and John Paul Cooper starting their careers in the town.
Dryad originally focussed on cane furniture and a separate venture Collins & Co, set by William Pick in c 1908, focussed on metalwork. Pick was a former student of Leicester School of Art whose father had also taught there. He was also a good friend of Peach and in 1912 Collins was subsumed by Dryad as Dryad Metalwork.
The condition of the casket is excellent and original. There is a vertical hairline crack across the central flower enamel.
I am grateful to David Marshall at Hammer and Hand for his assistance with this research and cataloguing.
Price: £1,000- £5,000
Maker: See description
Designer: See description
Marks: Unmarked / inscribed to lid
Material: Copper, sterling silver highlights
Condition: Excellent with one hairline crack to the central flower enamel
Size: 25 cm long, 10.5 cm wide, 9 cm high
Weight: 823 grams, 29.0 oz