Published 24th February 2014
Valuation mornings are often full of surprises and unusual pieces, and the continued success of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewoods valuation mornings at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Dowell Street in Honiton has resulted in turning up an intriguing example of an elusive Victorian silversmith.
A Three piece silver gilt tea set by Alexander Crichton 1878
Alexander Crichton is a mysterious figure of the Victorian era, whose place of birth and death are still unknown. His mark was registered with Goldsmiths Hall in 1872 and a pair of shields made by Crichton after designs by Sir Joesph Noel Paton were exhibited in Edinburgh in 1886. Paton’s great artworks ‘The Quarrel’ and ‘The reconciliation of Oberon and Titania’ were themselves based upon ‘A Midsumer Nights Dream’ and contain a plethora of fairytale figures that inspired Crichton.
Detail of insect decoration
Crichton seems to have embraced the fanciful world of fairytales, no doubt influenced by his relationship to Paton and through him Crichton may certainly have had an acquaintance with Sir John Tenniel. Tenniel’s creations of Lewis Carols figures was perhaps the main impetus for Crichton’s best known work, the wonderfully fanciful silver mounted claret jugs made between 1881 and 1882. Fish, squirrels, owls, cockatoo’s and dodo’s were a number of animals that Crichton used to produce some of the finest eclectic silver of the Victorian period.
Marks for Alexander Crichton and London Assay 1878