William Blair Benchmen's Mark for Arthur Stone

Do not post mark questions here.
jwhalentyler
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:06 pm

William Blair Benchmen's Mark for Arthur Stone

Postby jwhalentyler » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:19 pm

Hello all! I am new to this forum, so please be patient with me!

William Blair was my Second-Great Grandfather. He immigrated to the US from Scotland and worked for Arthur Stone for a short (but productive) time. I am interested in learning any and everything there is to know about William Blair, but to start with I am trying to better understand his Benchmen's Mark while working under Stone. I have spent years looking to buy a piece of his work, and yesterday found a plate that may actually have been made by him. However, I've never seen his Benchmark on silver and only know (from this site) that it is *B*. The plate I found had two distinct dots on either side of the B, but they do not look like asterisks and are not symmetrical. I know Willliam Blair specialized in Holloware, and am told that would have included silver plates. I know that I cannot link to the Etsy listing of the plate, and I also believe I am not allowed to share the picture of the marks, as it is still currently for sale.

Could anyone help me understand how literal the asterisks would appear? Or could you point me in the direction of anyone who might know more?

Also, any further information on William Blair would be so appreciated! I have his Metalsmithing tools (as well as his top hat from when he abandoned silversmithing to join a vaudeville act!) and hope to share them with future generations.

Thank you so much for your help!

dognose
Site Admin
Posts: 47804
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:53 pm
Location: England

Re: William Blair Benchmen's Mark for Arthur Stone

Postby dognose » Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:08 pm

Hi,

Welcome to the Forum.

Here's some detail regarding a ciborium and monstrance by Arthur J. Stone and William Blair:

Image

The gold and jeweled ciborium and monstrance shown in the frontispiece is one of the most remarkable examples of modern craftswork which has come to our attention and for this reason particularly it is gratifying to know that it was designed, modelled and executed by members of an arts and crafts society, and formed the central attraction in the ecclesiastical exhibit of a year ago in Boston. The design was from the architectural office of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, and was in the main the work of Frank E. Cleveland whose experience in designing many important pieces of ecclesiastical work, lends special value to his appeal on page 29. The plaster model was by I. Kirchmayer, who is: widely known for his work as a modeller and wood carver, and the goldsmith work was by Arthur J. Stone and his assistant, William Blair, representing nearly seven months of exacting work. The beautiful piece of craftmanship was presented to the Church of the Advent, Boston, by Miss Catherine Tarbell as a memorial to her father and mother. It is fifteen and one-half inches high and weighs eighty-five ounces. It is made entirely of gold, the structural part being eighteen carat while much of the ornamental detail is twenty carat.

We are indebted to the 'Gardner News' for the following detailed description:

"This pyx, as it has been sometimes called, is designed after the manner of the reliquary of the middle ages — beautiful examples of which are still extant in the churches of Italy, and it is late Venetian Gothic in style. The structure is hexagonal; the base rises to the knop in chalice form, and is surmounted by a box which contains a smaller inner box, the ciborium, in which are kept the un-consecrated wafers. Rising from the cover of the ciborium and attached at its center is the monstrance with its watch-like crystals in which are the lunettes to hold the host, or consecrated wafer, away from its sides. The monstrance is enshrined in a canopy, the supports for which rise from the corners of the outer or ornamental box. The base is ornamented with a crucifix, medalions with the symbols of the four evangelists and a large amethyst, each forming the central feature of its section. Surrounding these, and clothing the entire base is a running pattern of overlap ornament of passion flowers, grapes and tendrils, and Gothic leafage. The structural beauty of the form is accented and enhanced by the exquisite grace of this delicate tracery. The inscription around the base line is an incised Gothic lettering.

The knop has three tiny cameo-like medallions with the instruments of the passion, these alternating with amethysts. The same overlaid tracery of vine and leaf covers' the knop and encloses the jewels. Lattice-like trusses of the same ornament edge the hexagonal corners of the box, the upper border of which is of tiny passion flowers with diamond centers. I he bottom of the box is embedded in vine and leafage, which disappears in an artistic tangle as it reaches underneath toward the knop.

The six panels of the box are set with a brooch- like arrangement of one large amethyst and four diamonds. The crystals of the monstrance are held by an inch band of rich overlaid ornament in which are set three of the largest diamonds.

The angel figures upholding the canopy, with out-stretched wings, tip touching tip, have each a tiny diamond set in the hair, and over the head of each is an ornate canopy with a small diamond held in the leafage. Spanning the spaces between the small canopies are shell-like arches, centering in angel s heads, and rising from the structure at this point, enclosing diamonds at their pinnacles are many foliated finials of the true Gothic style. Suspended from the canopies is a crown set with diamonds and ornamented with alternate fleurs-de-lis and crosses.

All this is completed by a hexagonal dome, the foliation extending upward along the ribs, and joining at the base of a cross, set in diamonds, which surmounts the whole."


Source: Handicraft - April 1910

Trev.

Traintime
contributor
Posts: 2404
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:44 pm

Re: William Blair Benchmen's Mark for Arthur Stone

Postby Traintime » Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:25 pm

Skinner Auctions describes the "* B *" mark having two dots. Here can be found a photo sample of the "H *" mark for Harrison and it looks like a circle rather than "literal asterisk": http://www.silvercollection.it/USASILSTONE.html

Perhaps that's what you're looking for?

jwhalentyler
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:06 pm

Re: William Blair Benchmen's Mark for Arthur Stone

Postby jwhalentyler » Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:11 pm

Traintime wrote:Skinner Auctions describes the "* B *" mark having two dots. Here can be found a photo sample of the "H *" mark for Harrison and it looks like a circle rather than "literal asterisk": http://www.silvercollection.it/USASILSTONE.html

Perhaps that's what you're looking for?


This is wonderful - the single dot for Harrison looks very much like the two dots on the plate I have found! Thank you so much!

Aguest
contributor
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:26 am

Re: William Blair Benchmen's Mark for Arthur Stone

Postby Aguest » Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:07 pm

It's interesting that Blair works for Arthur Stone for such a short period of time. ::: What did Blair do after he left Arthur Stone? :::: It's just interesting that someone who has such immense talent in the silversmithing art would then suddenly shift to another occupation entirely. ::: Thanks. :::


Return to “General Questions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest