Artificers’ Guild

A rendering of a brooch from the Artificers’ Guild design archive, circa 1910

The Artificers’ Guild Ltd was founded in 1901 by the metalsmith and enameller Nelson Dawson (1859-1942). It was one of the few guilds inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement to enjoy real commercial success, and remained in operation until 1938.

During its existence, the Guild operated as a substantial business, employing over 40 staff at its peak, including a large number of skilled craftsmen, many of whom would have been trained in the Guild’s workshop. Although unacknowledged for much of the 20th century, the Guild is now recognised as an important producer of high quality metalwork and jewellery during this period.

A rendering of a brooch from the Artificers’ Guild design archive, circa 1910

The Library holds a collection of around 2,000 Artificers’ Guild design drawings, many of them signed by the Guild’s designer Edward Spencer. They demonstrate his excellent draughtsmanship, as well as the Guild’s ability to respond to changes in fashionable taste. They range from finely rendered presentation pieces for clients to full-scale wash studies for stock pieces and working drawings with annotations giving indications of price and alterations. Although most of the work is his, the Guild did employ designers other than Spencer, and the collection also includes a significant number of designs by the architect and designer John Houghton Maurice Bonnor (1875-1917).

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Library & Archives

The Company’s archives date back to the 14th century, and the Library's collections include over 8,000 books and over 15,000 images, magazines, journals, films and special research collections.

History of the Company

The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, more commonly known as the Goldsmiths' Company, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London and received its first royal charter in 1327.


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.