Business Philosophy/Silversmiths Philosophy

Nothing we make at JA Campbell Silversmiths is ” how cheap can we make it?” or “where can we cut corners?” Our policy is always “how well can we make it” or “how long can we make it last”

We have so much pride in our business that we never want to see anything returned with a complaint or criticism on how we made it.

When our silver business began there was a fair amount of competition and I took the decision to follow the quality and reliability path. The philosophy has served JA Campbell Silversmiths well as now we are one of the few remaining independent family silversmiths producing a complete matching range of contemporary silver tableware. (With the exception of silver flatware)

To see an example of this collection have a look at the simple open mustard server and spoon. 

In order to create this product the silversmith first cuts a blank or disc from a sheet of silver, and on a spinning lathe “spins/wraps” the disc around a preformed chuck using a highly polished steel burnisher, while the lathe rotates at about 100rpm. The skill here is to stop the sheet silver disc from buckling as it starts to change to a hollow shape. On completion of the spinning operation the piece is sent to the London Assay Office for testing and subsequent hall mark punching. Upon return to the silversmiths workshop the piece is polished using 4 different grades of polishing compounds. It is then cleaned and gold plated inside to prevent corrosion.

The silver mustard server comes complete with a forged silver spoon which is also assayed, polished and finally the bowl is gold plated.

As with all JA Campbell silver tableware this item is a pleasure to use. The current high price of silver means that the intrinsic value of your piece of silver is now a much higher percentage than in the past, making it better value.

Enjoy using your silver

John Campbell

Master Silversmith

The Apprentice Silversmith’s Other Duties

When I started my apprenticeship as a Silversmith, (having just completed a one year pre-apprenticeship course at the Central School of Arts and Crafts) I was fascinated with the new life I found myself in. Being in the company of ‘men’ as opposed to ‘boys’. The ‘men’ of all ages who formed the workshop silversmith team used to enjoy teaching not only the practical skills of the job, but also telling stories of life and the ‘good old days’ when the parents of the ‘boy’ as the apprentice was called had to pay the master for the apprenticeship.

This was still common practice until at least the early 1900’s. Recently I had the good fortune to be introduced to an old gentleman who had been a machine gunner in the First World War (he also had some fascinating tales to tell) His father had bought him an apprenticeship at Vauxhall Motors as an apprentice coach builder. Vauhall Motors were then still at their factory in Vauxhall, London.

This practice of paying the master for teaching the trade had died out completely until now when there seems to be the early signs of a revival of the practice.

During the time of my apprenticeship it was common practice to run errands for the men and make the tea etc. I was told (true or not) that in the old days the boy would sleep under the bench and also run errands. One of which was getting the pint beer mug (which hung from a large hook under the man’s bench) filled up at the pub next door. One of the errands I found most embarrassing was having to go to buy condoms from a discount stall in Leather Lane, which sold them cheaply. Another errand was to go to the betting shop to put bets on for the plater who assured me he could beat the bookmaker.

Boys would often be sent out on fools errands such as a jar of ‘elbow grease’ and can I have a ‘long weight/wait’. Much to the amusement of the men who couldn’t wait for the boy to return to have a good old chuckle as it reminded them of their early days in the trade.

What an introduction to the life of adults for a young and naive John Campbell!