Mechanical Reproduction and Liberty's Cymric Line

Unlike the design movements and fads that preceded it, the Liberty style, which depended upon factory production, emphasized the multiple, rather than the unique object. As Shirley Bury explains in the catalogue for an exhibtion celebrating Liberty & Co.'s centennial,

The Cymric scheme was always envisaged as a mass production exercise, even while it incorporated the most recognisable features of Arts and Crafts work, notably the use of semi-precious stones and enamel, and surfaces covered with hammer marks. There was however a difference. The hammer marks left unpolished on the silver made by Ashbee's Guild of Handicrafts and by other workshops associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement were there as the outward and visible signs that each article was made by hand in traditional fashion. Arts and Crafts silver was therefore costly: Cymric wares, while certainly not cheap, were relatively less expensive. Most of the hollowwares were either spun or were die, stamped flat, complete with the ornament, and then shaped. The cylindrical form of many coffee and tea pots, jugs and other items testifies to this method of construction; an inspection of their interiors shows them to be seamed under the handles. The 'hammer marks' were either cut into the surface of the die, or were genuine, the hammer being used to clean up the surface of the article after stamping. [Shirley Bury, quoted by Levy, p. 101]

What can we conclude about the company's decision to simulate hammer marks and other traces of hand work?

References

Levy, Mervyn. Liberty Style, The Classic Years, 1798-1910. New York: Abrams, 1986.


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