History of Silversmithing
- In ancient times, silversmiths produced objects and stored them as stock due to the lower value of silver compared to gold.
- Silversmith guilds formed in the ancient Near East to arbitrate disputes, protect members' welfare, and educate the public.
- Medieval Europe and England saw the formation of silversmith guilds that transmitted tools and techniques through the apprentice tradition.
- Artisans emigrated to America in the 17th century, leading to fewer restrictions and the growth of silverworking as a trade.
- The British rule in Madras (now Chennai) during 1875 saw the emergence of exquisite silverware, including Swami Silver.
Techniques of Silversmithing
- Silversmiths saw or cut specific shapes from sterling and fine silver sheet metal and bar stock.
- Hammers are used to form the metal over anvils and stakes, with silver being hammered cold.
- Work-hardened silver needs to be annealed periodically to prevent cracking and weakening.
- Casting techniques are used to create knobs, handles, and feet for hollowware.
- Assembling the various pieces is done through soldering and riveting.
Tools and Materials used in Silversmithing
- Silversmiths historically used charcoal or coke fired forges and lung-powered blow-pipes for soldering and annealing.
- Modern silversmiths commonly use gas burning torches as heat sources.
- Laser beam welding is a newer method employed by silversmiths.
- Silversmiths may also work with copper and brass, especially for practice pieces.
- Copper and brass have similar working properties and are more affordable than silver.
Notable Silversmith Companies
- Garrard & Co, founded in London in 1722, is still operating today.
- Hersey & Son is a notable silversmith company.
- Phipps & Robinson is another well-known silversmith company.
- Reid & Sons, founded in 1788 in Newcastle, is still operating.
- Hester Bateman is a notable historical silversmith.
- Zahroun Amara is a renowned Mandaean niello silversmith.
- Various references to Zahroun Amara, a renowned Mandaean niello silversmith.
Silversmith Data Sources