Art nouveau, Arts and crafts
£1,000 – 5,000
A really good Norman and Ernest Spittle silver teapot, hand hammered with repousse art nouveau naturalistic design. The teapot is also laden with heart motifs, including the the design of the lid hinge and spout. Would make a perfect gift…..
Condition is very good with minor scratches and surface wear commensurate with age. The teapot is fully assayed for Birmingham 1906.
I have done some fresh research on the fairly obscure N & E Spittle. Frederick Ernest Spittle and Norman Spittle were brothers from a middle class family, their father owned a Birmingham boot making factory. Ernest was the older brother by some 6 years, born in 1869. Together they established their Birmingham metalwork firm in 1896/7, when Norman was just 21. They quickly focussed on artistic metalwork, principally in copper in the arts and crafts tradition A contemporary article on them published in The Artist in 1899 can be found at this link, where it is written they designed and made all their own work.
Norman married Elizabeth Ada Usher in 1898, but he died at the young age of 26 in January 1902. The marriage still produced two children, Eileen Gertrude Spittle and Donald Spittle.
The company name changed over time. In 1900, in a Studio Journal advert, it is described as Norman and Ernest Spittle, “Coppersmiths” and “Artists in Metals”. Whilst in 1906 the Studio describes work as being by N & E Spittle, by 1907 the Studio describes work as being by N & E Spital. It seems around 1906/7 Matthew Clark joined the firm as Director and it became Spital and Clark (based on research from British Newspaper Archive references and Graces Guide, though the latter claims Spital and Clark was established in 1897, with the Spittles as Directors).
In the period 1910-12 there are numerous references to Spital and Clark as electrical, bronze and/or artistic contractors for major buildings of the period such as the Liver Building, Liverpool; Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Gracechurch Street, London; RAC club, St James, London; and King Edward VI School, Birmingham.
Quite why the firm was known as both N&E Spittle (and then Spital) and Spital and Clark is not known, though the death of Norman in 1902 was probably significant.
It seems the youngest Spittle brother Clifford joined the firm from c 1901. In the 1911 census Ernest (and Clifford) Spittle each still described themselves as “Architectural Metalworkers”.
The company was merged with Singers of Frome in 1914 for £12,500 and Ernest and Clifford Spittle became Directors of the combined firm. This firm was subsumed in turn by the Lambeth firm of Morris Art Bronze Foundry in 1927. Ernest Spittle died in 1937. The Morris Singer foundry is still in existence today as an artistic bronze foundry.
The Spittles are renowned today as providing designs/catalogues that Gustav Stickley used as inspiration for his early metalwork in America. Read more about this at Hammer & Hand Antiques.
Maker: Norman & Ernst Spittle
Designer: Norman & Ernst Spittle
Marks: N & E Spittle, Birmingham, “g”
Material: Sterling silver
Condition: Very good
Size: 11 cm high, 28 cm max width
Weight: 419 grams, 14.8 oz