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tline3open  Hester Bateman - silversmith?

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Author Topic:   Hester Bateman - silversmith?

Posts: 962
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 05-05-2003 08:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for vathek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems that at the time David Shure wrote his book on Hester (1959) it was thought that she actually made silver items herself. Now it seems more accepted that she was a business person and didn't make any of it, but how did one get a punch from the Goldsmiths Hall without submitting work samples?

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June Martin
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iconnumber posted 05-19-2003 08:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was not so uncommon for a woman to carry on the silversmith business of a deceased husband. According to Women Silversmiths 1685-1845, during the first third of the eighteenth century, about 40 women goldsmiths were active in London having taken on their deceased husband's businesses and registered marks.

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Posts: 353
Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 05-19-2003 11:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was always under the opinion that only Americans believed that Hester was an actual silversmith. I read somewhere years ago that the Americans loved to invision a woman sweating over a hot forge, the British author found that humourous.
The practice of a widow continuing her husband's shop occured in the States and in France. Bowne is one name that comes to mind.

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Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 05-20-2003 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, all! If you haven't as yet seen the book, "Women Silversmiths, 1685-1845", then see my response (#5, I think) to the post "Reflections in a Silver Spoon" by Ann-marie on this forum for the book ID info. This book well covers the range of female silversmiths of the period, from actual smithing to just running a business. It appears that Hester was more of the latter persuasion, even though apparently she couldn't write (or, by inference, couldn't read either, apparently a rarity for a woman in her position). Goldsmithing (included silversmithing) was about the only handwork that was considered acceptable for upper class folk. Still, Louisa Courtauld likely never stooped so low as to pick up a hammer. She was a business woman, period. Though Hester was hardly in the same social class as Louisa, she likely did very little of the actual handwork. The book is a good read, well printed, look for bargain copies on and I apologize if you are already aware of this text.


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Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 05-20-2003 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oops, upon re-reading this thread, I see that June Martin already referenced the Female Silversmiths text on 5/19. Sorry, should have read more carefully. However, though I can't answer the original question (how did HB qualify for her mark?), I can add that this book includes a copy of the registry page on which her first mark was entered (4/16/1761, see text p.25), showing her crude, chicken scratch "HB", obviously indicating she was illiterate, so that her "mark" apparently had to be notarized by Fendall Rushforth, whoever he was. This book is a "must have" if you are at all interested in the distaff side of silversmithing.


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Posts: 2920
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iconnumber posted 05-20-2003 11:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Re Rick's restatement of the original question "how did HB qualify for her mark?": In 18th Century England, it was necessary to belong to a Guild in order to practice a trade. I believe it was the practice to grant that right, upon application, to the son of a dead practitioner, without completion of the usually required apprenticeship. You often see notations to the effect that "freedom of the Company" (admission to guild membership) had been granted to a survivor "by right of patrimony," or something to that effect after which a mark could have been registered. For women, however, things apparently were more restrictive. There is a statment on page 19 of "Women Silversmiths" that "Women were normally in a position to register a mark only on the death of a husband already active in the craft," which implies that the same courtesy was granted to widows who had been active in their husbands' businesses.

I think this was implicit in June Martin's answer, but a mechanism was not specified. Perhaps she or someone more familiar with this practice can correct me if I am wrong.

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Silver Lyon

Posts: 363
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 11-17-2004 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silver Lyon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You get Widows (and sometimes even Aunts) taking up the reins of silversmithing business from the middle ages... these are plenty of examples in England and Holland from the mid 1500's - another (c.19th)example is posted in the excellent posting under the POSEN query (see Continental Silver Forum) in Germany.

Does anybody know of American examples of this matriarcal system?? - Why do YOU think that there are so few in USA ??

The point with Hester Bateman (see above) is that she was supposed (by convention)to turn the business over to her children when they were old enough but clearly could not bear to give up until she was so old that it became inevitable!!

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iconnumber posted 11-17-2004 03:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anybody know of American examples of this matriarcal system??

There were a few, but most continued to use the existing firm name or some variation of it. As with Hester, there is a question of how many - if any - of them actually made silver, probably only relying on journeymen for production.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one who used her own mark - Hannah Robinson - but she may not be the only one.

Others never used their own mark. A case in point is Madeline Osthoff. Andrew Osthoff moved from Baltimore to Pittsburgh, with his wife and two apprentices, the brothers George and Joseph Lukey. Shortly after arriving, Andrew died, and his widow, Madeline, advertised that she was taking over the business. She eventually married George, and after his death (when, if I recall correctly, she advertised again), married Joseph.

No silver yet found bears her name, nor that of George, the older brother. To the best of my knowledge, only Andrew Osthoff's mark and that of Joseph Lukey have so far been found. Either Andrew was incredibly productive in the short time he lived and worked in Pittsburgh, of his mark weas used for some undetermined time after his death, until Joseph began to use his own. Much (most?) of Joseph's work is later in style - I wonder if George might not have used Andrew's mark in the interim?

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Posts: 4095
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 11-17-2004 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are those which are in my Silversmith Family Tree:

Cowles, Susan Fairchild (13 Jan 1861-Aft 1913)
After death of her father in 1885, took over silver and jewelry business. Listed in Child's Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties for 1887 as a manufacturing jeweler and watch repairer in addition to a dealer in fine wares and general goods.

Durham, Isabella H. S. (about 1822-?) widow of Ira C. Canfield
She worked after 1881 with sons William & Ira Canfield jr, and T. Welsh in Baltimore MD as CANFIELD & Co.

Gardner, Elizabeth (1755-25 Jan 1803), widow of John Gladding Gibbs
As JENCKES & Co.; 1797 partnership with John Gibbs' former apprentice, John C. Jenckes. The firm was dissolved on 01 Aug 1800.

Hackstaff, Sarah (21 Jun 1790-10 Nov 1862), widow of William Brestede Heyer
Having taken over her late husband's shop; 1828-1835 in New York City. It is not known if she was a maker, or simply managed the business.

Johonnot, Mariane (17 Aug 1706-22 May 1747), widow of James Boyer
Working as a jeweler, 1741-1747, in Boston, continuing her late husband's business.

Kelley, Elizabeth (about 1862-)
Listed in the 1880 census taken at New Bedford MA as an apprentice watchmaker

Moulton, Lydia (11 Feb 1757-about 1823)
Working, presumably in her father's shop, as a silversmith, c 1780-1790

Nichols, Mrs. Susanne (?), widow of Nathaniel Booth Nichols
Working as a silversmith and watchmaker, 1831-1832, in Petersburg VA, continuing the business of her husband.

Robinson, Hannah (2 Feb 1803-1 Jul 1878)
Working as a silversmith, 1840-1860, in Wilmington DE, initially from the shop of her brother William at 91 Market Street and later on her own.

Rosenkrans, Maria (6 Jul 1777-?), widow of Samuel Bowne
Working as a silversmith and/or manager, 1818-1831, in New York City, continuing the business of her husband. Listed in the 1820 city directory at 17 Elizabeth Street.

[This message has been edited by wev (edited 11-17-2004).]

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Posts: 712
Registered: Jul 2003

iconnumber posted 11-17-2004 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A great thread-thanks so much for the list. My mother and I are trying to put together a collection of pieces from English and Irish women silversmiths, but now we have an additional challenge on our hands! Might I suggest a link of this discussion on to the General Silver forum, as I think others might find this discussion of interest.

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Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 11-17-2004 10:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought I might add an interesting bit of trivia regarding widow silversmiths from the Continental perspective, and that is the curious case of János Kromer, who was, of all things, a male widow silversmith.

This happened because the concept of a widow silversmith in 19th Century Europe was not merely a circumstance of inheritance, but a specific right granted by the local guild. Widows were often permitted by the guilds to which their deceased husbands belonged to continue his business. There were certain restrictions, however: they could not be elected officers of the guild, for instance, nor could they take apprentices. Since guild membership was generally restricted to a specific number of Masters, this system permitted a journeymen (one who had completed his apprenticeship and usually a prescribed number of years’ work as a silversmith, generally as workman in a Master’s shop) to be admitted to the guild upon the death of a Master, but did not force a widowed spouse nor his workmen into destitution.

This gives the background for János Kromer, an early 19th century journeyman silversmith in the town of Modra, Slovakia (“Modern” in German), then in the Kingdom of Hungary. The guild there was quite small and limited to so few Masters that, in 1828, Kromer was admitted to the guild as a widow. That is, he could make silver goods in all legal fineness ( a right often restricted on the continent to full Masters; journeymen were permitted only to work in the fineness of currency), hire workmen, receive the protection of the guild from illegal competition, etc. but was bound by the restrictions on widows mentioned before.

A curious case, indeed, and a very interesting topic. I, too, think it should be moved to the general forum.

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 11-18-2004 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Concerning Hester Batemans actual involvement as working silver smith, see cases t17860222-115, t17940917-112 and t17830115-28.

The 1783 case sees Peter Bateman obviously acting as manager, in the 1786 case he states he works for Hester but is very much in charge. The 1793 case is interesting in that Peter (who comes over as a rather unpleasant fellow in all the cases) as prosecutor and witness in a minor case of theft. Nothing unusual, but if you note the date, Hester had died the previous day, but the case makes no mention of it . Obviously not too grief stricken to pursue the guilty !

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