£5,000 – £10,000
Arts and crafts
You may know that there is a Beatles song on the White Album called “Rocky Racoon” with a lyric I always enjoyed: “Her name was Magill, and she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy.” Now you may rightly feel this has nothing to do with silver, but as I researched Adrian Harlaar, who made these absolutely superb, dreamy, beakers, this lyric kept coming to mind, as I will now explain.
These beakers are hallmarked B.H for Beatrice Harlaar (1877-1945). She registered this mark in November 1930 at the London assay office. Beatrice’s maiden name was Fennessey and in 1903 she married the Dutchman Adrian (Adrianus) Harlaar who had made his home in England. Now Beatrice both in the 1911 and 1921 census and 1939 Register (essentially a pre-war census) is listed as a housewife. At no time did she appear to study or make metalwork. And indeed when registering the B.H mark she gave the trading name underlying the mark as Adrian Harlaar, her husband.
Adrian Harlaar (1868-1942) was an “art metalworker”. He taught at the Sir John Cass Institute from c 1909, probably up until the war in 1914. In the 1910 Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society he is listed as executing a “biscuit box” (Exhibit 292) designed by Harold Stabler. By the 1921 census he is listed as a Trade Union Secretary for the National Brass and Metal Mechanics. He reappears in the 1939 Directory again as an “art metalworker”.
Given these facts I am confident in saying that the maker of these vases, whose mark was slightly inexplicably registered as B.H by his wife, is Adrian Harlaar. This attribution is further reinforced by two other findings:
Firstly, a spoon and fork were acquired alongside a large number of Harlaar pieces (see other recent listings and further images to this item), that has both the B.H assay mark and a monogram that is almost certainly Adrian Harlaar’s. The monogram is difficult to interpret and appears on all the collection I have just listed. Having examined all of these monograms I am pretty sure it represents ATH. The ATH quite possibly stands for “Adrian of The Hook” which, according to his probate documents, was Harlaar’s common name – I assume given his Dutch origins. Now you see where the Beatles’ lyric comes in!!
Secondly the vases are very much in the style of Sibyl Dunlop and there exists – see images – a dish marked for Dunlop dated 1927 that also carries Harlaar’s monogram. So it is safe to assume there is some link between Harlaar and Dunlop around this time – my guess is Harlaar was someone Dunlop outsourced work to from time to time.
Which brings us to the beakers themselves. They are the arts and crafts beakers you always wanted to exist but never quite found. They are a good gauge and “lovely in the hand”. Each is decorated with two bands of stones, the upper cabochon amethysts, the lower alternating faceted purple amethysts and an orange stones that may be fire opal or garnet. The beakers are further decorated with applied wirework of medieval influence. They are in excellent original condition. Faultless. I commend them to you!
Price range: PoA
Maker: Adrian Harlaar
Designer: Adrian Harlaar
Marks: B.H, London, “u”
Material: Sterling silver, semi precious stones
Size: 7.0 cm max diameter, 14.5cm high
Weight: 8.8 oz, 250 grams each