PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
English silversmith and designer Reginald H. Hill (1914-75) studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London after completing a silversmithing apprenticeship. During his coursework Hill proved to be a very talented student and earned all of the scholarships provided by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Impressed by Hill's work, the Company acquired a cigarette box the young designer had made to commemorate the coronation of George VI in 1936. Through his coursework, Hill determined that he preferred design over craft and upon graduation turned his efforts toward freelance designing. His most important commission before World War II was the design for the 1939 Ascot Gold Cup executed by Elkington. Following the War, Hill resumed his design work and also began teaching at the Central School of Arts and Crafts where he was held in high regard by his students. One former pupil described him as "a brilliant educationalist, a fantastic designer, a gentleman and a gem of a man".
During the 1940-50's Hill was commissioned by a number or prestigious organizations and private clients including the Bank of England, Cambridge College, Oxford College, City livery companies and the Royal Family. In 1953 he was commissioned by the Duke of Edinburgh to design a commemorative gold communion set for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had presided over the coronation of Elizabeth II. By the 1950's Hill was working regularly with, but not exclusively for Vander- the makers of the present lot. Coincidentally, the last design Hill produced before his 1975 death was for a cup and cover which Norman Vander was to present to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in recognition of his term as Prime Warden. Hill's papers, cuttings and photographs are preserved in the library of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, Washington, DC. A period photograph of Hill and Will Casley, a Vander employee whose signature is scratched on the base of the Centerpiece, with the Ford Motor Company Centerpiece and its original drawing was recently published in the Goldsmiths' Review, 47.
Hill's thoughtful approach to design is evidenced in the Ford Motor Company Centerpiece, where he blended iconography significant of Ford's presence in both England and the United States. Specifically the state of Michigan is represented through the motifs of apple blossoms, the state flower, and wolverine, an animal associated with the state of Michigan and the mascot for the University of Michigan. Founded by Henry Ford, the Ford Motor Company was incorporated on 16 June 1903 in Detroit, MI. Its first Mack Avenue factory was able to produce only a few automobiles per day. By 1929 production had expanded monumentally and company moved to establish a plant in Dagneham, England. The Ford Dagenham plant opened in 1931 after 28 months of construction. In its history the plant has produced nearly 11 million cars and 37 million engines. Although vehicle assembly ceased at the Dagneham in 2002, the plant is responsible today for producing engines and is the largest producer of Ford diesel engines in the world. The year 1953 is not only significant of the Ford Motor Company Jubilee anniversary, as inscribed on the Centerpiece, but also marks the height of employment of the Dagenham plant, which employed 40,000 people in that year. Presently the Dagneham plant employs approximately 4000 people. In 2010 Ford was the fifth-largest automaker in the world, and is one of the largest family controlled companies in existence.
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