Likes and dislikes of a Silversmith

There are two hundred items approximately in my JA Campbell silverware range, some I enjoy making and others I do not.

The two best examples are as follows, the Chalice Claret Jug JC/137/F I enjoy making. Why? Firstly I quite like its design, it is quite simple, easy to clean from a consumers perspective, easy to use, it pours nicely. The crystal is relaively easy to replace should it ever get broken.

From a making point of view it only has three silver components making ordering and stocking simple. It has relatively few manufacturing operations. I have made thousands of them over the past 20 years so I am very familiar with the making.    

All the opposites can be said for the Adam Claret Jug JC/137/A. If I never had to make another one of these it would not upset me.

Reasons: I dislike making it. Firstly I do not like the design, it is far too fussy for me, it is complicated to the eye, difficult to clean and use, it also pours badly.

The crystal is a swine to replace if it ever gets broken.

From a making perspective it has umpteen components, around 25, making ordering and stocking difficult. Any one of these missing and the job cannot be finished.

Accordingly it has dozens of operations a failure of any one of these can reck completion. Although I have made hundreds of these over the years I never enjoy the experience.

The best part of this job is when it goes out of the door.

Ever since I was an apprentice I have disliked making up patterned wires. There are four bead wires on this piece. Worst of all it is highly unprofitable. So please anyone reading this do not buy one!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Campbell

Master Silversmith

Silver Brighton Buns continued

Continuing with my investigations on the above, I gave the “assay” marks a good ultrasonic clean (to remove old polish and residue etc) and examined them more carefully under a microscope for more clues to their origin.

Unfortunately they are unreadable. One shows signs of an outline foil shield with an unrecogniseable blob in the centre and the other is an oval with what could be an upper case A to one side.

No sign of a fineness mark ie. 800 which might be expected on an artical from this period circa 1870. The oval punch which produced this impression must have been in terrible condition, worn, rusty and broken.

So it does seem that unfortunately they can not be identified with any certainty as to the country of origin.

But it was interesting to try and do a bit of detective work!!

I always say that to collect silver is something that anyone can and should do, it will bring pleasure to you and your family in generations to come.

Browse my silver collections and see which piece you could start with

John Campbell

Master Silversmith

Taste de Vin selling well!

Just noticed we are out of stock of our silver taste de vin.

This suprised me as it does not seem long since I made a batch, however, time flies when you are having fun. Time to start a fresh batch. The first step is to locate the rubber for injecting the serpent handle prior to casting. This is done by friends at BAC Lee and Russell and employing the lost wax method.

I worked with Lee’s dad Brian years ago, became friends and had many good sailing expeditions together. This was before I bought my own boat.

The lost wax method of casting is where a model of what you want to cast is made in wax which is invested in Plaster of Paris, subsequently melted out and replaced with in this case molten silver.

At the time of ordering the cast handles the silver discs for the bowl are ordered from Cookson Precious Metals, our preferred supplier.

When the two components have arrived the first step is to spin the bowl more details of this on the website page. Then the cast handles are fettled, fitted and soldered to the body. The taste de vin is now almost done, barring hallmarking and polishing. What I like about this product, is that it is simple to make and sells well and is profitable which I cannot say for much of my range.

They seem to be selling especially well probably due to the new interest in wine, this applies to me also as I regularly attend wine tastings and have learnt a lot more about the subject. How Chardonnay can vary, for example, oaked or not, different climate, terroir etc.

Salute!!!! Learn and enjoy your wine plus get yourself over to France to the Alsace region, a beautiful area with hundreds of little historic family vineyards and stacks of quality wine at amazing prices that you probably will not find in the UK.

Remenber red wine is improved by decanting as described on the Silver and Crystal Chateauneuf decanter page.

John Campbell