Iona Abbey, with St Oran's Chapel in the foreground
Brooches by Alexander (and also his wife Euphemia) Ritchie come in many different shapes and sizes. The brooch was probably the most widely-produced item of their entire silver jewellery range.
For easier reference we have listed brooches under the following headings, with a separate section devoted to enamel brooches of various types, many of which which are rarer than the plain silver types.
As with any highly creative craftworkers, unusual types of the Ritchies’ silver brooches occur in many fascinating styles, and there are still examples in collections or turning up in today’s auctions which are either ‘one-off’ creations, or very limited production pieces.
Brooches are known to exist with Chester hallmarks as early as 1903, and there may be a few that are even earlier. Production was very prolific in the 1920s and 30s, and after Ritchie’s passing in 1941 some of his original moulds were used by the Birmingham silver company Darby and Sons to continue Ritchie silverwork through to the 1950s. The Ritchies had close links with the Darby company, who had made some of their jewellery using the original Iona designs during the latter years of ‘Iona Celtic Art’ in the 1930s. Some of these post-war Darby pieces have the double hallmark of AR and D&S Many 1920s and earlier Ritchie silver items have no hallmark whatsoever, just the letters AR and Iona, usually impressed in two separate rectangles. A few earlier silver pieces have an additional ‘registered number’, which is a six figure number allocated to individual pieces and accompanied by the impressed letters ‘Rd No’.
As noted under the section on hallmarks, Glasgow silver pieces are known from c.1911 through to the 1930s. Most brooches from 1931 onwards are marked ICA IONA and have a Birmingham hallmark.
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© 2004 by David James