For sale is this is this fantastic pair of silver peppers designed by Charles Ashbee for the Guild of Handicraft, marked for Marcus & Co.
Each pepper is set with red garnet stones. The design for the pepper appears in Ashbee’s Modern English Silver Work, plate 15, and also can be seen in a photograph of a collection of Ashbee silver published in The Artist, (Vol 33, Jan 1902, Page 17). These peppers represent one of Ashbee’s most daring and radical designs.
A fascinating aspect of these peppers is that they are marked for the New York firm of Marcus & Co. Marcus & Co were one of America’s leading turn of the century jewellers, renowned at this time for producing arts and craft and art nouveau jewellery (see Sothebys). Marcus & Co exhibited jewellery at both the 1899 Boston Arts and Crafts Society Exhibition and the 1900 Paris Exposition.
It is known that Marcus & Co retailed the Guild’s work (see Tadema Gallery for an Ashbee peacock brooch in period Marcus and Co box). The extent of Marcus and Co’s relationship with Ashbee is explored in W. Scott Braznell, ‘The Influence of C.R. Ashbee and his Guild of Handicraft on American Silver, other Metalwork, and Jewelry’, in The Substance of Style: Perspectives on the American Arts and Crafts Movement, Delaware, 1996, pp. 25–45.
These peppers are not assayed and do not carry the Guild of Handicraft mark but I am certain they were made by the Guild of Handicraft in c 1900, exported from the UK (it is said Ashbee would carry over a suitcase full of silver on his US trips to sell and help fund his travel) and then retailed by Marcus & Co. They therefore represent perfectly the link between the British and American arts and crafts movements.
Condition is excellent, with some scratches and wear consistent with their age. One pepper is missing two small interior pins that help hold the lid in place. Both lids are a good tight fit and this loss is of no significance.