An interesting job came in a couple of weeks ago (I like interesting jobs) It was a damaged silver communion chalice from a prison chapel. It was originally made in sterling silver by Vanpoulles Ltd in South London circa 1965 – 1970. Busy, involved in another job at the time, I had a brief look and quoted £150, thinking it would probably take a couple of hours to repair. The quote was approved and when I came to start the repair I realised it had some quite bad creases/folds in the trumpet shaped base. Once metal has been folded (like a sheet of paper) it is difficult to rectify. However, I like a challenge and I always stick to a quote.
The story behind the damage, which was rather extreme, was that it had been stamped on by an individual, flattening both the bowl and the base, it didn’t seem accidental. I had thought that maybe it had been shut in a heavy door or something similar, not just knocked or dropped.
Rising to the challenge, the work commenced. Using various stock tools to gradually open up the flattened parts, followed by making a wooden spinning chuck to fit inside the base and another inside the bowl, I re-spun these 2 components and the creases came out very nicely. Following a re-polish the chalice was like new again. Result – a very satisfied customer. It always gives me a good feeling when a job turns out well, even if the economics are not great. The overall job had taken 5 hours, rather than the 2 hours I originally guesstimated!
Silversmithing to me, is as much a hobby as it is a business. At 68 years of age, I am as interested today, as when I started my apprenticeship at the age of 15, probably even more so.
It is worth noting that no matter how badly damaged you think a piece maybe, always ask the question of the Silversmith. But make sure you ask a reputable and competent one, as with all industries, cowboys exist! Some people call themselves silversmiths when they are actually the village plumber.
JA Campbell Silversmiths -reliable, reputable and competent.