A Scottish gilt-metal and agate letter opener, attributed to Hamilton, Crichton & Co. of Edinburgh, circa 1880
1,000 - 1,500 GBP
A Scottish gilt-metal and agate letter opener, attributed to Hamilton, Crichton & Co. of Edinburgh,
unmarked, the shaped blade pierced with masks and foliate motifs, below a cast dragon, the tapering handle inset with agates below gilt-metal beasts
25.5cm. long; 10in.
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In very good condition, ready to be placed.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
An almost identical letter opener was sold at Sotheby's London, Mentmore, Vol. 5., 21-27 May 1977, lot 3244. The later letter opener used to be fitted in a case applied with ‘R’ below a coronet, possibly for the Rosebery family, and ‘Hamilton Crichton & Coy. / Goldsmiths Silversmiths / and / Diamond Merchants / 41 George St. / Edinburgh.
Alexander Crichton was born in Edinburgh in 1839, and we first hear of him entering a silver cup into the 1870 Society of Arts exhibition and then registering his mark at Goldsmiths Hall in November 1872, with a workshop located at 47 Great Russell Street.
It was in the early 1880s that Crichton designed his fantastical animal claret jugs for which he is so well known. He created more than thirty-four silver and glass claret jugs between 1881 and 1882, many of these designs being registered at the Patent Office. The animals include walrus, crocodile, cockatoo, dodo, fish, squirrels, seals, ducks, budgerigars, owls, penguin and an otter.
Although Alexander Crichton was a London silversmith, he almost certainly had strong Scottish connections as many of his works were sold by Hamilton, Crichton & Co., Scottish goldsmiths of 41 George Street, Edinburgh. There is a matching set of a silver knife, fork and spoon, dated 1874-5 and with the maker’s marks in the collections of National Museums Scotland (inv. no. 000-100-001-123-C). The identity of Crichton’s partner, Hamilton, remains unclear.