Iona Abbey, with St Oran's chapel in the foreground

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Very unusual sterling silver cream jug with a quality Celtic border of knotwork and interwoven animals. Possibly a 'one-off' made to commission? Hallmarks are for Birmingham 1925 and makers mark JW&S, (possibly J Weir & Sons of Dublin). Heignt 10cms, maximum width from spout to handle 11cms. If anyone has other items by this silversmith we'd like to hear about them. High-quality workmanship throughout.

Unusual pair of silver preserve/pickle forks with attractive St Martin's Cross Iona handles. Length approx 4". Hallmarks for Edinburgh 1938 and maker GN&S.

Early Viking longship brooch by Gilmore and Watson of Oban, the reverse is hallmaked G&W Glasgow 1916, and stamped IONA. The design is from the longship on Mackinnon's cross shaft on Iona. As the ancient cross was there on Iona for anyone to sketch, it is not possible to say whether this was a copy of Ritchie's longship silver brooch of the period (see brooches section on this site), or an original design by G&W.

Fine silver replica of the Tara Brooch by Oban silversmith John Collie. Hand-beaten reverse stamped 'J. Collie, Oban', and 'Iona - silver'. 1920s period. A rare piece.

Iona Dove pendant by John McGilvray of Oban. Hallmarks for 1923. This attractive design was also made by Alexander Ritchie in plain and enamelled silver versions, and was continued by Iain MacCormick and S&Co after his death in 1941, through to the 1950s. Some versions can be found as both brooch and pendant, with a pin mounted on the back.


Well worth inclusion here are two examples of silver brooches/badges made for the Christian-based Scottish 'Girls' Association'. The enamel brooch (diameter 3cms) is known to date from the 1930s, but the silver one (diameter 2.5 cms) which is more common seems to have been produced through to the 1950s and many examples are post-war. Reverse large raised marks of GA (Girls' Association). No hallmarks or maker's marks on any examples that I have seen, but these are both sterling silver, and the Viking ship is very much taken from Alexander Ritchie/Iona stonecarving designs, hence their inclusion here.

Someone who should definitely be included among Alexander Ritchie’s contemporaries, is the Manx-born Art Nouveau silversmith Archibald Knox (1864-1933). Knox’s association with the prestigious firm of Liberty & Co is legendary in the history of Art Nouveau craftwork and jewellery.

Above is a fine silver napkin ring by Knox, hallmarked for Birmingham 1910 and with a knotwork design in triplicate around it. The diameter of the ring is 2", and height 1". The designs are filled with blue and green enamel. Certainly Alexander Ritchie would have been aware of Knox’s work, and also aware of the fine early Art Nouveau silver and enamel jewellery made by Charles Horner.

The WHH stamp is the mark of the W.H. Haseler company who were the manufacturers for the London firm Liberty & Company. Archibald Knox supplied metalwork designs to Liberty & Company. Liberty & Co. insisted on anonymity for its designers. Knox designed his unique silverwork for Liberty & Company between 1899 and 1912.


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© 2004 by David James