About the Collection


Internationally recognised, the Goldsmiths’ Company has one of the finest collections of silver made in Britain, numbering some 8,000 examples from 1350 to the present day.


About

The special character of the collection, which divides into groups: antique silver, domestic silver, contemporary silver, jewellery and art medals, is that all items are used either for their original purpose, for display in exhibitions, or to inspire contemporary patronage of living craftsmen.

The Collection emphasises the Goldsmiths’ Company’s own deliberate pioneering patronage, which has enhanced the creative vitality of design and craftsmanship in silver and jewellery throughout the 20th century and continues in the 21st century. Indeed today, Britain leads the world in contemporary studio silver design. At the centre of this modern movement is the Goldsmiths’ Company.

Building the Collection

The Company continues to purchase and commission pieces for the Collection each year. The Curator works in consultation with specialists, curators and leading craftsmen for acquisitions to the Collection, to ensure the highest standard of excellence is maintained. 

Each new contemporary piece must demonstrate innovative design combined with dexterity of craftsmanship and are acquired from established craftsmen, as well as from rising stars.

'Shetland Bird’ vase, 2013, Sheila McDonald

Displaying the Collection

A changing display of the Collection is exhibited during the year within Goldsmiths’ Hall and can be viewed on Open Days by the public or by invited guests hiring the Hall for special events.  The Collections are not available as a totality for public viewing. Enquiries concerning historical and contemporary work represented in the Collections can be answered by email. Limited access to view the Collections is permitted for academic research, as well as for patrons of modern work, subject to prior appointment with the Curator.

The Company organises exhibitions of the Collection with museums and other institutions. Full details can be found on our exhibitions page

There is also a regular programme of loans from the Collections to major exhibitions in this country and abroad. Full details can be found on our loans page.

Curatorial Team

Art Director and Curator Rosemary Ransome Wallis heads the curatorial deparment. A leading expert recognised nationally and internationally in the fields of modern silver, modern jewellery and art medals, she acts as an honorary advisor to public institutions and private individuals, as well as being a lecturer and author on these subjects.

Rosemary is a Liveryman of the Company, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and an Honorary Brother of the Art Workers’ Guild, and has acted as honorary advisor to organisations including the Silver Trust for No. 10 Downing Street, the British Art Medal Society, Lichfield Cathedral, York Minster, Coventry Cathedral, Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Rosemary has been an expert silver advisor for the Export Reviewing Committee, H.M. Government and for the silver vetting committee for the Fine Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia.

“Rosemary Ransome Wallis is a renowned expert on 20th and 21st century silver and jewellery” Eric Turner, Curator, Metalwork Department, Victoria & Albert Museum.

Lecture highlights include Bicentennial lecture for the ‘Treasures of London’ touring exhibition U.S.A.; ‘Denny Memorial Lecture’ at the Museum of London; ‘Modern Silver’ at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; for the Crafts Council at Collect, Museum of Art and Design, New York, U.S.A.; the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, and many others. 

Catalogue highlights include ‘Matthew Boulton and the Toymakers’, ‘Lichfield Cathedral Silver Commission’, ‘Treasures of the Twentieth Century’, ‘Modern Designer Jewellery 1960-2000- Jewellery from Goldsmiths’ Hall’, ‘Treasures of Today’ Modern Silver 1980- Present Day, ‘The Silversmith’s Art: Made in Britain Today’.

The curatorial department also acts as honorary advisor to patrons of contemporary silver, jewellery and art medals and can advise those undertaking similar touring exhibitions. Rosemary and the department have extensive experience with the crafts of silver and jewellery and can offer advice on contacts in these fields, such as engravers, gilders, enamellers, jewellers, cutlery manufacturers etc. The department also supports contemporary craftsmen through a series of educational initiatives and bursaries

Commissioning Advice

Commissioning an item of contemporary silver, jewellery or an art medal is a special experience often resulting in a unique work of art.

Expert advice from the curatorial department is available concerning commissions from corporate bodies, ecclesiastical institutions and private individuals for silver, jewellery and art medals by leading designer and artist-craftsmen. Although the Goldsmiths' Company can advise on the usual procedures for entering into a contract for a commission, it will not itself become a party to any transaction.

Advice on previous silver commissions has included the ecclesiastical silver for Lichfield Cathedral; the Millennium nave altar silver for York Minster; St Alban’s Abbey; St. Denys Church, Sleaford; Leeds Cathedral; domestic silver for the Silver Trust for No 10 Downing Street and for Oxbridge Colleges; maces for new universities such as Imperial College, University of Cumbria, Henley College of Business Management; corporate silver for City Livery Companies such as the Mercers, Fishmongers, Grocers, Clothworkers and Ironmongers; and ceremonial silver for the Armed Forces, such as the Royal Anglian Regiment. Jewellery commissions have included badges of office and engagement rings. Art medal commissions have included the prize medals for the Benjamin Britten Violin Competition, Samuel Pepys Tercentenary Award, and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

Silver Cleaning

For professional advice on when and how to clean silver, please download our guide. For further information, please contact the curator.

 

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Discover More

Modern Collection

The Goldsmiths’ Company decided in 1926 to begin a collection of modern silver, to improve the design and craftsmanship in the silver industry.

Antique Collection

The historic collection dates from 1550 to 1900 and includes internationally renowned masterpieces.

Jewellery Collection

A unique and consistent collection of innovative studio jewellery by creative individuals expressing their artistry in precious metals.