Members' Window # 56  
by Robert Massart  
click on images to enlarge

- Birmingham 1882 -

An early Victorian Arts & Crafts solid silver cigarette or cheroot (note 1) case in outstanding condition, assayed in Birmingham in 1882.
The maker, silversmith Constantine & Floyd, (note 2) still operated at Caroline Street, Birmingham in 1882.
The silver case is designed to hold cigarettes or small cigars. The hinge, spring and lid work and fit very well. Front and reverse sides are chiselled with feathery scroll work and floral design - the front having a vacant cartouche in the shape of a parallelogram. The gold washed interior is still in perfect condition. One of the sides is engraved with the inscription "FIRST PRIZE .A. TROOP L.S. HUSSARS".(note 3)
The cigarette case carries clear English hallmarks on the inner edge of the body with the gothic date letter "h" (year 1882), anchor (Birmingham assay office -horizontal for pre-1900-), lion passant (denoting sterling silver) and Queen Victoria’s head facing left (duty mark).
Next to these marks the sponsor’s mark "CE & FD oblong chamfered" is punched, standing for Constantine & Floyd. The mark was registered in 1880 at the Birmingham assay office and a similar mark was registered on 10 October 1881 at the Chester assay office. The lion passant hallmark is repeated inside the lid.
The cheroot case measures 78 mm by 40 mm, is 11 mm deep and weighs 36 grams.
(1) A cheroot is a cylindrical cigar with both ends cut flat during manufacturing. The word cheroot is derived from an old French word ‘cheroute’, which in turn comes from a Tamil word ‘curruttu’ meaning roll of tobacco. It is believed that the French introduced this word into their language during the 16th century, when they attempted to influence the cultures of South India with the cultures of their own.
(2) Alfred Constantine and William Henry Floyd initially had their business at Caroline Street, Birmingham. Marks were registered at Birmingham, London and Chester. John Culme relates in his Directory of Gold & Silversmiths, Jewellers & Allied Traders 1838-1914, that Alfred Constantine & William Henry Floyd were described in 1900 as wholesale jewellers and factors and that they established their business in 1903 at 14, Regent Place, Birmingham. The firm was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1901 under the style of Constantine & Floyd Ltd. They opened a branch in 1903 at 45, Hatton Garden, London. Constantine & Floyd Ltd were eventually absorbed in 1931 by H. Williamson Ltd.
(3) In the British Army the King's Royal Hussars Guidon (banner) carries more battle honours than any other Cavalry. The single Guidon, carried today by each of the regiments of light cavalry, was introduced as the Royal or first Guidon by Queen Victoria's Royal Warrant of 7th August 1858. L.S. is the abbreviation for Long Service.
Robert Massart
- 2009 -