George III English Sterling Caddy Spoon by Joseph Willmore, Birmingham
Offered is a very fine and well-preserved Georgian English silver tea caddy spoon by noted Birmingham silversmith and spoonmaker Joseph Willmore. His biography follows the description of this piece. This caddy spoon is in a variant of the Kings or Hourglass pattern, and the pattern is virtually unworn. The spoon is engraved with a period script monogram, and bears well-struck hallmarks for assay in Birmingham in the year 1817. Joseph Willmore's maker's mark is similarly well-struck and is quite legible. This piece measures about 3 3/8 inches in length and weighs about 10 grams. All in all an excellent and fairly early example of this form!
Joseph Willmore was one of the most prolific and renowned silversmiths to have worked in the famous Birmingham silver industry, with our antique silver for sale including many of his high-quality pieces.
Born in 1773, he was the grandson of another renowned Birmingham silversmith, Thomas Willmore, who had been active at least since the establishment of the Birmingham Assay Office in 1773. Thomas had entered his mark at the Assay Office between 1773 and 1801 in partnership with James Alston, though they were both in fact independent, with Willmore being a bucklemaker and Alston being a button maker.
Joseph followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and began trading as a silversmith in 1806, when he had registered his mark at the Birmingham Assay Office as a snuff-box maker – many of his snuff boxes in fact remain highly collectable today, and he is highly regarded especially for his snuff boxes with repoussé or ‘castle-top’ lids. He later also registered at the London Assay Office in 1814-15, opening a showroom in Bouverie Street where he could sell his wares to wealthy City businessmen.
Upon his grandfather’s death in 1816, he also took on his business, which further allowed him to expand the variety of silver wares that he made and sold. For example, at the Birmingham Assay Office, he registers as a maker of knife and fork handles in 1831, and a maker of silver-gilt knives, forks and spoons in 1832. He continued to register makers marks until 1843, and passed away in 1855, bringing an end to the Willmore tradition of silversmithing, though he had several good apprentices, including George Unite, who became a renowned silversmith in his own right.