For sale is this “rare as hens’ teeth” Potteries and Newcastle Cripples Guild silver perfume bottle. The lid set with a red stone (possibly enamel), very much in the style of The Guild of Handicraft.
The piece is a highly authentic piece of arts and crafts work. It lacks refinement and was clearly made by a relatively newly trained or semi skilled worker, very much in the spirit of the Guild. What it lacks in quality of craftsmanship it more than makes up for in style of design, charm and its story. It is most likely a Frances Arthur Edwardes design (see A1430 at this link for more on Edwardes) and is very much in the style of Guild of Handicraft.
The bottle is assayed for Birmingham 1906 and carries the PGH sponsor mark, an abbreviation for The Potteries Guild of Handicraft to both base and lid.
The Potteries and Newcastle Cripples Guild originated in 1898. 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, although this perfume bottle would appear to have more contemporary inspiration.
The majority of work was made in copper which was silver plated with some sterling silver pieces. 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 “DSCG”). The work produced was sold locally and at 13-14 New Bond Street in London. The metalwork employed 12 boys and a later a number of adults and closed in 1922.
The Potteries Guild of Handicrafts registered its assay mark on 19th November 1906 and within two years it was replaced by the registered ‘MS’ mark of 14th January 1908. It was only as the DSCG that the venture started to consistently produce sterling silver pieces, hence the rarity of this piece.
As stated the quality of workmanship of this piece is fairly crude. The soldering is poor and several curving strips of silver are set unevenly. The finial is uneven. The glass bottle top rim is uneven, visible with lid removed. The glass may have been repurposed. The base has solder and a small hole. I am confident this is all original!
Maker: The Potteries Guild of Handicraft (Duchess of Sutherland Cripple’s Guild)
Marks: PGH, Birmingham, “g”
Material: Sterling silver
Condition: Very good. Crude but original. See description
Size: 12.25 cm high
Weight: 1.8 oz, 52 grams (excluding glass)