According to the Collins Encylopedia (1974), this electroplated tea service, which has a gilt interior, was designed for J. Dixon and Sons, "English manufacturers of Sheffield Plate, Britannia wares, silver, and electro-plate in Sheffield" (96). Founded in 1806 the firm, which "developed the technique of elctro-plating Britannia metal," was still in existence as of 1974. The tea pot is 5 inches high and is marked with Dresser's facsimile signature, "a design registry mark for 25th November 1880, and retailers mark, K. & Co" (98). [GPL]
Dresser's designs for silver and plate appear to us his most revolutionary; they suggest little of the period in which they were created. He applied his own rigorous formulae to designs fir silver, formulae thatwould have inhibited more timid designers. The silver design is organic in a way that is not immediately apparent. Superficially it resembles the work of Josef Hoffmann in the 1900s and Puiforcat in the 1920s. There is the same geometrical expertise, but its elegance is organic and one recognises the same sense of vitality that is such a feature of Dresser's ornamental design.
Dresser greatly admired the work of the silversmiths of the Islamic cultures and Japan and his admiration of their understanding of the nature of materials is reflected in his design. But there is never any attempt at slavishly imitating Oriental work.
Dresser paid particular attention to economic use of materials in his designs for silver.
Dresser designed for a number of manufacturers of silver and plate, including Hukin & Heath from about 1878, designs obviously by him being produced well into the 1890s. Dresser appears to have designed for Elkington & Company from 1875 until 1888. Designs by Dresser for James Dixon & Sons were shown in a catalogue of theirs issued in the early 1890s, but the main period of his design for them appears to have been between 1879 and 1882.
Last modified January 2000