This is an advertisement for Jacob Josephson, one of Australia’s first silversmiths.
Jacob Josephson was born in Breslau, Prussia in 1774 and is first known to have worked as a silversmith in Hamburg. In the early years of the nineteenth century he moved to England, first to Norwich, where he was living in 1809, and then to London. Whilst living there found to his advantage that by denouncing his Jewish faith and converting to Christianity, certain doors would open for him, and open they did, as a convert he found favour in the Christian community, and to supplement his earnings he was appointed as a salaried clerk to a parish church. The trust placed with Josephson was unfortunately misplaced and after running up six hundred pounds of credit at the bank, he absconded with the church silver.
On the run with his wife in tow, he was arrested in Oxford in 1817, for passing forged bank notes and at Oxford Quarter Sessions he was sentenced to transportation for fourteen years.
Josephson arrived at New South Wales on board the Neptune
in May 1818, and he is described on the convict indent as: ‘Born Breslau. Hebrew teacher, age 39(?), 5ft. 4ins. In height, dark, ruddy complexion, black hair, dark eyes.
Having a trade to support himself, he was freed almost immediately, and opened the shop at 3, Pitt Street, Sydney in October 1818.
Interestingly Josephson employed two other silversmiths, whose names may well be known to collectors of silver, firstly that of Jeremiah Garfield (Grimwade 1817), who was transported for fourteen years after being found guilty at the Old Bailey for applying counterfeit marks unto twelve silver spoons in September 1821. He had entered his first mark at Goldsmiths Hall in August 1813, as a plateworker, address given as 25, Bridgewater Gardens, Cripplegate, London, he was formerly an apprentice to John Hudson. He arrived at the colony on the Eliza
in November 1822. Garfield lived a sorry existence in the Colony, it would appear that he was incapable of making anything in silver with the exception of waiters, salvers and trays etc. and as there were no rolling mills established in Australia at that time, he could not acquire the raw material to work with and was employed by Josephson only as a house servant. Upon the completion of his sentence, Garfield became a policeman at Bathurst.
The other employee of note was the Dublin buckle maker Walter Harley, who had entered his mark in 1784 from an address at 15, Coles Alley, Castle Street. Harley had many clashes with the authorities and was fined in 1787 for transposing hallmarks onto buckles and was transported to New South Wales in 1815 for possessing forged tokens, arriving on the Frances and Eliza
. Harley’s convict indent describes him as ’57 years of age, 5’ 7 Â½” tall, of sallow complexion with brown hair and hazel eyes.’
In 1820, Harley was given a conditional pardon and left the employment of Josephson. He opened a shop in Castlereagh Street, Sydney, but after only a little more than a year and a half, he died, in May 1822.
Jacob Josephson never changed his ways. By 1824 he had run up debts of Â£12,000, an enormous sum in those days, and with no bankruptcy laws in the Colony, he was sent to a debtors’ prison in 1826 and retired from the life of a silversmith. Upon his release he opened an inn and apparently prospered. He died at the age of seventy two on the 6th December 1845.
Sources:Nineteenth Century Australian Silver---J. B. Hawkins
London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, Their Marks & Lives---Arthur G. Grimwade.
The Asiatic Journal & Monthly Register 1826
The European Magazine & London Review 1809
The Christian Disciple & Theological Review 1821
A Statistical Account of the British Settlements in Australasia 1824