A massive silver vase by Francis Arthur Edwardes

For sale is this massive silver vase by Francis Arthur Edwardes of the Duchess of Sutherland Cripples Guild.  The silver is fully assayed for Birmingham 1935.  The vase is hand hammered with what I will describe as two chased peacock tails emerging from the base of the vase to two sides.

Silver marked with Edwardes personal mark is rare. I have researched Edwardes extensively and am indebted to Dave at for much of what follows below:

Francis Arthur Edwardes was born 6th April 1865. The first 40 years of his life are something of a mystery – his birth certificate has not been found, he appears in no census returns or other official records. There is no record of where he studied. It is said he was born the son of a silversmith . Later in his life when a metalworker he is also described as an artist but there is no record of art in his name, though he certainly produced some striking enamels.

What we do know is that around 1906/7 he arrived at Potteries Guild of Cripples in Hanley, Stoke on Trent (which was to become the Duchess of Sutherland Cripple’s Guild). The first time Francis is mentioned in connection with the Guild is July 1907. Mr Edwardes is described as the able assistant to the manager of the metalwork department, Miss Newey . Francis would have worked in the Potteries Cripples Guild workshops in Wilson Street in Hanley. Metalworking had been increasing in importance for the Guild and had reached a point where Millicent believed it should become a separate commercial venture.

In July 1907 the Potteries Cripples Guild became the Duchess of Sutherland Cripples Guild. Capital of £5000 was raised to form the new limited company. The Directors of the new Guild were Millicent Sutherland, the newspaper proprieter, C. Arthur Pearson, Director of Waring and Gillows Ltd, S.J. Waring and the Director of Mintons Limited, J.F. Campbell . At this time, the Duke of Sutherland also provided buildings on the Trentham Estate for a new larger workshop. This opened in January 1908.

Francis took over the metalwork department of the DSCG at some point in 1908. This probably coincided with Mabel Newey, the metalwork manager, marrying the former Honourable Secretary of the Potteries Cripples Guild, Fred Salt, in the spring of 1908 . Both Mabel and Harry Foster Newey (her father) disappear from the Guild at this time. Francis continued as the Manager of the Metalwork section at the Guild until it was agreed that it would be wound up voluntarily in November 1920 .

A newspaper article about one of the last sales of the Guilds metalwork does mention that Mr F. A. Edwards the late manager of the Guild, who has some of the cripples working for him, can supply them if you write to him at 58, Windsor-street, Hanley, Stoke on Trent . How long this new venture lasted is unknown. Later, Edwardes became instructor to the metal-work classes at Burslem School of Art and continued in that position until his retirement, owing to advancing age, some years before the war.

Francis died in Stoke on Trent on the 5th of June 1944 leaving behind a widow, Agnes and a daughter, Leslie Rose . His obituary states that he came to North Staffordshire 40 years earlier on the invitation of the Duchess of Sutherland. He was a most eminent and able craftsman in silver and other metals and undertook the training of the cripple children in metal crafts. When the cripples’ metal-work classes terminated he continued to work as a craftsman, and many people who appreciated his fine work are proud possessors of his hand wrought plate and jewellery.

Millicent Sutherland subsequently installed a plaque to Francis in the church on the Trentham Estate demonstrating her gratitude for his contribution to her Guild which is shown in the images.

Price: £2,750

Maker: Francis Arthur Edwardes

Designer: Francis Arthur Edwardes

Date: 1935

Marks: FAE, Birmingham, “L”

Material: Sterling silver

Condition: Excellent

Size: 25 cm high, 17 cm max diameter

Weight: 571 grams, 20.1 oz

SKU: A1430 Category:


The Guild originated in 1898 as The Potteries and Newcastle Cripples Guild. It was set up by Millicent Duchess of Sutherland, a society beauty and social reformer.

The Guilds aims were originally to provide medical treatment to children and to instruct children in a trade or craft. Originally artificial flowers, baskets and photograph frames were made, and boys learnt printing.

By 1902 there were over a hundred boys and girls being taught within the guild. Art metalwork began in 1902 under the guidance of Francis Arthur Edwards. Designs were copied or adapted from historical examples.

The majority of work was made in copper which was silver plated and silver. In 1907 the name of the Guild was changed to The Duchess of Sutherland’s Cripples Guild of Handicrafts as the venture was made into a limited company.

The work produced was sold locally and at 13-14 New Bond Street in London. The metalwork employed 12 boys and later a number of adults and closed in 1922.

Metalwork is stamped with a crown above the letters ‘D.S.C.G’

Thanks to Colin Pill for this information.

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