An account of Lamberts taken from 'Illustrated London and it's Representatives of Commerce' Published in 1893.
MESSRS. LAMBERT, GOLDSMITHS, JEWELLERS, AND SILVERSMITHS,
10, 11, And 12, Coventry Street, W.
A Very important and interesting business is that which has for upwards of ninety-two years been carried on in Coventry Street under the name of Lambert. This notable and thoroughly representative house was founded as far back as the year 1800 by Mr. Francis Lambert, who was born in 1778, and whose father was a well-known accoutrement maker, doing business in the Strand.
Francis Lambert was apprenticed as a boy to a Mr. Wesley, a silversmith in the Strand, but, leaving him, he joined a Mr. Clark, who dealt in cutlery, and thus he acquired a knowledge of the latter trade as well. As already stated, he commenced business for himself in 1800, having as a partner a Mr. Hamlet, with whom, howover, he soon afterwards severed his connection. A few months spent on the Continent enabled Mr. Lambert to acquire a great amount of additional knowledge bearing upon the artistic departments of his trade, and when he returned to London he again commenced business, in opposition to his late partner.
The success of that venture was most encouraging, and its prosperous career has never since been interrupted, for the famous establishment now existing in Coventry Street is the direct outcome of that not very pretentious beginning ninety years ago.
Francis Lambert was after a time joined in partnership by a Mr. Rawlings, and the firm bought the business of Rundle & Bridge, a very celebrated house in those days. Mr. Rawlings died in 1862, and the historic house of Lambert is now carried on by the son and grandson of the founder.
The premises occupied are very commodious and admirably adapted to the requirements of this high-class and artistic business. The shop, a fine corner one, has a frontage of over a hundred feet to Coventry Street, and its windows are a never-failing attraction to the thousands of passers-by.
Apropos of the interest aroused in artistic minds by this renowned establishment, the following passage is quoted from a speech of the Right Hon. Leonard Courtney, M.P.: "Mr. Thackeray, in one of his novels, talked of the unceasing delight of the people of those days in looking into the windows of Rundle & Bridge. That firm has passed out of existence, but its place has been in some part taken by Lambert & Rawlings. He never passed from Piccadilly to Leicester Square without stopping to look into that shop." It is very interesting to know that the author of " Vanity Fair" was a constant visitor at 10, 11, and 12, Coventry Street, and the last purchase he made of Messrs. Lambert prior to his decease was a very fine silver bowl. It is characteristic of the man that, in driving a bargain for this bowl, he urged that he should have it at a reduced price, saying, " for the sake of a poor author." It is not every shop that can boast of so intimate an association with Thackeray, and one can readily understand why it is that no alteration has been made in this establishment since the great and genial novelist's days. Internally, the premises ace spacious and finely appointed, and the stock is in many respects unique.
Magnificent examples of beautiful antique gold and silver plate, old and valuable clocks, and superb jewellery, are here displayed, goods but rarely found in even the best of modern establishments, yet not by any means unusual at Messrs. Lambert's, for this firm's peculiar element is the unique and the unconventional, and they cater exclusively for the highest circles of society. Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Family, the nobility and gentry, and many distinguished art connoisseurs and collectors are numbered among their regular and constant patrons.
While it would be idle to attempt even the most concise enumeration of the many features of interest that distinguish the stock and the productions of this widely famous firm, mention must be made of Messrs. Lambert's superb display of church plate, which is shown in a large number of exceedingly fine glass cases. This department has long been a speciality of the house, and the firm have a wonderful private collection of ecclesiastical vessels, including some of great age and interest. Special attention is due to their many elegant designs in chalices; and the beauties of both the ancient and modern styles of church plate receive full exemplification.
In the matter of second-hand plate, Messrs. Lambert are in a position to offer exceptional advantages to purchasers, both as regards price and quality ; and their stock in this, as in other lines, is one of the largest and most valuable in London.
This firm are not only dealers, but manufacturers also, and every branch of the goldsmith's and silversmith's art is carried out upon a large scale in the spacious and well-appointed workshops on the premises, a very numerous and skilful staff being here employed. All kinds of gold and silver plate are produced, and the house is especially famous for designing and making cups, trophies, &c., for prize and presentation purposes.
The following extract from the Daily Telegraph of July 16, 1879, has reference to the firm's excellent work in this last-named direction : " Messrs. Lambert, who chiefly follow the most approved forms of old English metal-working, as exemplified by the goldsmiths of William III and Queen Anne, are prominently represented by the quaint and characteristic pair of bossed flagons, constituting the Rajah of Kolapore's prize; the Chancellor's Challenge Plate for the Oxford and Cambridge match, a stately tankard of thoroughly British design; and the Spencer Cup for the Public Schools' competition. This last trophy is in the purest taste of the Adams' period of decorative art, from the Old House which continues to work silver of the same fineness as used in those reigns, and which requires the Hall Mark of Britannia, and the Lion's Head erased." Messrs. Lambert also designed and executed the magnificent caskets in which the freedom scrolls of the Goldsmiths' Company were presented to the Right Hon. W. H. Smith, M.P., and the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour, M.P., in May 1889. These were superb examples of the goldsmith's art, and worthy of a house whoso reputation is international, and whose influential connection extends to almost all parts of the world.
This distinguished firm are the holders of warrants of appointments as gold and silversmiths to their Majesties William IV and Queen Adelaide, H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex, Her Majesty Queen Victoria, their Majesties the King and Queen of Denmark, and also to 'their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh. Messrs. Lambert were large exhibitors at the Great Exhibition of 1851, as also at its forerunner, the first exhibition of the Society of Arts, held at the Adelphi in the year 1849. They also took part in the Marlborough House exhibitions, of which the South Kensington institution may be said to be the outcome. Here, too, valuable and interesting specimens of their workmanship are still to be met with.