For sale is this Alan Place small silver vase dated 1956. The design is classic mid century modern with clean aero dynamic design and chased geometric lines running the length of the vase. This is an elegant piece of silver of heavy gauge.
Works by Alan Place are rare and this is an early example of his work, probably an apprentice piece. Condition is very good. There is the slightest bruising to one area of the vase detectable by handling only and scratches commensurate with age.
Little is known of Place though in his day he held international renown and featured both in the UK press and in the New York Times following his move to the US in the 1980’s. He also gave a lecture in 2004 which provides some further biographical detail.
Based on these sources, we know that Alan Place was Scottish, and his training included degrees from the Glasgow College of Art, Royal College of Art, and Leeds and Sheffield College of Art. He studied with silversmith Alan Fisher, undertaking an apprenticeship with Fisher & Wrenwick Silversmiths. This was probably in the 1950’s when this vase was made.
Place originally established himself independently at his workshop in the 1960’s in Kinross, Scotland, ‘where he creates an endless variety of lovely things, from tiny delicate works of art in silver and gold to great powerful sculpture in copper and steel and wrought iron’ [Jewellery Inspired by Nature by Elise Walker, in The Glasgow Herald, June 2, 1966, p. 7].
At this time he created the Winston Churchill medal of which 25 were made in gold and 100 were made in Britannia silver (a higher grade than sterling). ‘The Queen has a number of pieces of his creations, including a gold box with a crystal lid, and a silver rose bowl presented to her in 1959 by The Royal College of Physicians, in Edinburgh‘. [ Glasgow Herald]
He was also the head of the gold and silversmithing department at Brisbane College of Advanced Education in Queensland’ in the 1970’s and moved to teaching roles in the US in the 1980’s. According to the same article [CRAFTS; SILVERSMITHING: AN ART NOT LOST by Patricia Malarcher, in The New York Times, July 27th, 1986 – see this link]. Place said “People are ”getting bored with having everything the same as everyone else……. There appears to be a trend toward the purchase of things that are individual”.
Based on the museum lecture he gave in 2004 (see this link) in the US his important commissions include:
I am grateful for Spencer Marks’ website for some of this information.
Maker: Alan Place
Designer: Alan Place
Marks: AP, London, A
Material: Sterling silver
Condition: Excellent, slight bruise detectable by handling, scratches commensurate with age.
Size: Height 15.0 cm
Weight : 149 grams, 5.3 oz total