Members' Window # 78  
by Robert Massart  
click on images to enlarge


An Edwardian solid sterling silver mustard pot with original cobalt blue glass liner, made in 1906 by the famous silversmith William Aitken in his workshops 'Eagle Works', 78 Summer Row Birmingham.
The body is hand chased with a decoration of garlands of foliage and flowers. The domed hinged lid is raised by means of a thumbpiece and the spoon aperture is cut in the shape of a keyhole opposite the scroll handle. The original Bristol blue glass liner is in perfect condition and free of chips or flea bites.
The mustard pot has been impressed near the handle with a full set of hallmarks that read as follows: lion passant for sterling silver, anchor for the town mark of Birmingham, date letter 'g' for the year 1906 and the sponsor's mark 'W.A in an oval' standing for the maker William Aitken. The punches of the lion passant and the date letter 'g' are repeated inside the lid.
The mustard pot measures 58 mm in length (77 mm including handle) and it stands 50 mm to the top of the lid.
The gross weight is 84 grams and silver weight 36 grams.
William Aitken had his shop on 37-38 Vyse Street, Birmingham and registered several sponsorís marks as well in Birmingham as in Chester. His private address was Wellington House, Wellington Road, Handsworth, Birmingham.
William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1891-1894

Birmingham, 1891-1894
William Aitken mark, Chester, registered c.1893

Chester, registered c.1893
William Aitken mark, Chester, registered 15 February 1899

Chester, registered 15 February 1899
William Aitken mark, Chester, registered 7 November 1899

Chester, registered 7 November 1899
William Aitken mark, Chester, registered 20 November 1901

Chester, registered 20 November 1901
William Aitken mark, Chester, registered 18 September 1902

Chester, registered 18 September 1902
William Aitken mark, Birmingham,	registered August 1904

Birmingham, registered August 1904
At first glance, the registration dates of the sponsor's marks seem to prove that William Aitken was particularly active in Chester during the period 1893-1902. However we must remember that the assay office mark within a hallmark does not indicate where something was made, only where it was assayed and hallmarked. By Aitken's time there were no legal restrictions on where an individual could register a mark in relation to his place of business.
William Aitken was a Birmingham based jeweller; both the registers at Birmingham and at Chester bear this out. Biographical information on individual jewellers is scarce (info received from Dr Sally Baggott, curator at the Birmingham Assay Office).
In John Culme's Directory we read: 'William Aitken is recorded at Eagle Works, 78 Summer Row, Birmingham 18 March 1907, where he is listed in 1912 as a manufacturing silversmith. He was an exhibitor at the Jeweller's Exhibition of the same year at which time it was said that: 'it is an impossibility to mention any article which can be made in silver that is not in the stock of this firm... The motto of the house is 'Nothing is too large; nothing is too small', and from the tiniest trinket to the heaviest piece of plate Mr. Aitken is well at home". Among the items shown were silver mounted glass ware, also silver bowls, flower vases, stands, tea services, trays, toilet ware, manicure sets, salts, peppers and mustards, serviette rings, dishes and centrepieces as well as a range of electroplate goods.'

Samples of William Aitkenís work 1894-1921

William Aitken jug, Chester 1894 William Aitken mark, Chester 1894
Chester 1894
William Aitken mustard pot, Chester 1895 William Aitken mark, Chester 1895
Chester 1895
William Aitken salt cellar, Chester 1898 William Aitken mark, Chester 1898
Chester 1898
William Aitken caster, Chester 1899 William Aitken mark, Chester 1899
Chester 1899
William Aitken snuff box, Chester 1899 William Aitken mark, Chester 1899
Chester 1899
William Aitken tea pot, Chester 1900 William Aitken mark, Chester 1900
Chester 1900
William Aitken spoon, Chester 1901 William Aitken mark, Chester 1901
Chester 1901
William Aitken toilet jar, Birmingham 1901 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1901
Birmingham 1901
William Aitken sauce boat, Birmingham 1902 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1902
Birmingham 1902
William Aitken cream jug, Birmingham 1903 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1903
Birmingham 1903
William Aitken basket, Birmingham 1904 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1904
Birmingham 1904
William Aitken tazza, Birmingham 1905 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1905
Birmingham 1905
William Aitken 3-Handled Tot, Birmingham 1906 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1906
Birmingham 1906
William Aitken butter dish, Birmingham 1908 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1908
Birmingham 1908
William Aitken spill vase, Birmingham 1909 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1909
Birmingham 1909
William Aitken cauldron salts, Birmingham 1910 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1910
Birmingham 1910
William Aitken Set of Pepper Pots, Birmingham 1911 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1911
Birmingham 1911
William Aitken flower vases, Birmingham 1912 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1912
Birmingham 1912
William Aitken pepper pots, Birmingham 1913 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1913
Birmingham 1913
William Aitken ladies purse, Birmingham 1914 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1914
Birmingham 1914
William Aitken cruet set, Birmingham 1915 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1915
Birmingham 1915
William Aitken capstan inkwell, Birmingham 1917 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1917
Birmingham 1917
William Aitken tea set, Birmingham 1918 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1918
Birmingham 1918
William Aitken perfume powder jar, Birmingham 1919 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1919
Birmingham 1919
William Aitken mustard pot, Birmingham 1920 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1920
Birmingham 1920
William Aitken hand held mirror, Birmingham 1921 William Aitken mark, Birmingham 1921
Birmingham 1921

The Directory of Gold & Silversmiths, Jewellers and Allied Traders 1838-1914, John Culme
Chester Gold & Silver Marks, Ridgway & Priestley
Robert Massart
- 2010 -