Silver sword-shaped letter opener, length 10.5 cms. Marks on reverese are AR IONA, and recessed ICA stamp with Birmingham hallmark for 1932.

Matching pair of small Alexander Ritchie silver buckles with foliate decoration and braided edge patterns. Scarce. Marks are AR IONA and ICA with Birmingham hallmark for 1937.

Alec Ritchie also made a range of small pendants which doubled as quality fashionable charms for charm bracelets of the time. Some were hallmarked and others were too small to be hallmarked as the design took up too much of the small space. Above are two examples, one is of St Columba's Pillow cross, with the inscription on the reverse, the second is one of Ritchie's renowned Viking ships and has marks of AR IONA and ICA with Birmingham hallmark of 1937.

1920s silver button by Alexander Ritchie, from the same mould as the more often seen Viking ship brooch of the same design. (This isn't a later modified brooch, it was originally made with a central loop, not a pin and clasp). Marks are AR conjoined, and IONA, in separate rectangles. Photo by C. Hill.

Rare pair of early cufflinks by Alexander Ritchie with interlaced birds design, and Chester hallmark for 1912. Also stamped AR and IONA within separate rectangles. A most unusual design which is rarely seen on his cufflinks.

Unusual and attractive Alexander Ritchie silver belt buckle with clip. The design is of two birds with interweaving necks and feet, and a spiral decoration on each wing. Sixe approximately 3cms x 2.5cms. The reverse has imprinted marks of AR IONA and a Glasgow hallmark for 1934. As most work after 1931 by the Ritchies was marked ICA (Iona Celtic Art) and carries a Birmingham hallmark, it would seem that the Glasgow assay office was used during this period for some of their more individual pieces.

This has to be the most unusual Alexander Ritchie silver piece I have yet come across. My guess is that it was a 'one-off' commission. It is a sterling silver cigarette case, with a gilded interior, and it turned up recently in the USA. The interlacing birds design of Ritchies can also be found on an annular brooch of his (see Annular Brooches section), but in this instance it has been skilfully converted into an oval shape. The silver design has been made by the repousse method, and the hallmarks at the base of the front are a recessed AR and IONA in separate rectangles, along with a Birmingham halmark for 1919. On the reverse are a lion passant and date letter 'u', corresponding with the front hallmark.

This hallmark in itself is in my experience unique, as well as being crisp and sharp. No standard production pieces made by the Ritchies were hallmarked at the Birmingham assay office until the start of ICA (Iona Celtic Art) in 1931. Possibly one-off commissions like this one were sent by Ritchie for assaying at Birmingham. It certainly goes against current thinking that only the Glasgow and Chester silver assay offices were used by the Ritchies until 1931, as this piece was hallmarked 12 years ealier, and Ritchie was obviously fully registered as a silversmith with Birmingham before 1920. A superb and unique piece. One can imagine someone visiting Iona from the USA after WW1, falling in love with the Island and AR's work, and asking for this item to be commissioned especially for them to take back home as a memento.

Pair of sterling silver buckes by Alexander Ritchie, elaborate foliate decoration. No assay marks. Both are stamped on the reverse AR and IONA within separate rectangles. Early 1920s period. Nice to see a matching pair still surviving! Size 3.75cms x 2.5 cms approx.

Fine pair of silver buckles by Alexander Ritchie. There is a single example of one of these converted into a brooch, on the previous page of this section. This pair dates from the early 1920s and the reverses have recessed stamps of AR and IONA. No assay mark. Good to see a matching pair still together!

Scarce silver hair band by Alexander Ritchie. The total length is 14.5" and width is 0.5". Only a few of these were made. The foliate decoration is taken from medieval Iona stone carvings. Markings are AR IONA and ICA with Birmingham hallmark for 1935. A very unusual piece.


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© 2004 by David James