Arts and crafts
I have been waiting to buy a good set of Norah (sometimes Nora) Creswick spoons for quite a while, affording the opportunity to tell more of the remarkable Creswick story that I discovered when researching William Creswick’s flagon A875.
The famous sculptor and Birmingham School of Art teacher, Benjamin Creswick, had four sons and two daughters. All the sons became metalworkers in silver or jewellery. William Creswick moved from Birmingham to his Devon base in c 1920, whereas two of the younger sons, brothers Charles (1884-1965) and John (called Jack 1881-1934), both moved to Edinburgh in around 1914 (with Charles’ wife, Norah -see below), initially to cast the bronze altar screen for the Marquis of Bute’s chapel at Mount Stuart. In 1916 McDonald & Creswick was established (incorporated 1920, ended 1956). The firm became a substantial architectural bronze and metalworking company within which Charles and Jack were silversmiths, metalworkers, sculptors and bronze founders. Charles was renowned for uniquely specialising in the “cire perdue” (lost wax) process.
Charles married Sarah Edith Norah Hanman in Birmingham in 1909. So Norah Creswick (1883 – 1976) was a Creswick by marriage. Norah (in the records more typically Sarah Edith) was born and lived in Balsall Heath, Birmingham. Her father was an office worker described as a “Clerk” in the 1891 and 1901 census. An artistic vein must have nevertheless run through the family with her older sister Emma Louisa being a “Photographic artist” (1901 census).
Norah was an active silversmith/jeweller in her own right from c 1933 -1965, producing mainly small items like spoons and jewellery, in the arts and crafts tradition in her husband’s studio, having also trained at the Birmingham School of Art. Based on newspaper reports, she exhibited and lectured frequently at local Edinburgh craft exhibitions from c. 1933. She registered her mark at the Edinburgh assay office in 1937, describing herself as an “artist jeweller”. Shown in the images is one such report from 1934 together with a a cast bronze portrait of her made by her husband, Charles, together with a photo of Charles and Norah dating to c 1910 – a very handsome couple with more than a hint of Ben Affleck in Charles! By all accounts Norah was a remarkable woman and as a survivor of polio she wore a leg brace for most of her life.
I am grateful to Annie Creswick Dawson, Norah and Charles’ grand-daughter for her help with this research
These spoons are a wonderful example of her work, well made and in excellent condition. The six semi-precious stones include opal, red coral and amethyst.
Maker: Norah Creswick
Designer: Norah Creswick
Marks: NC, Edinburgh, “o”
Material: Sterling silver, semi precious stones
Condition: Excellent, possibly one repair to bowl/stem solder
Size: 9.0 cm long
Weight: 11 grams, 0.4 oz each