20th Century Design Forever

The 1960’s and 70’s saw some silversmiths becoming less interested in designing anonymously for large manufacturers, and started to set out on their own. Focusing on their own style meant they could also publicise and market their own creations.

Regarded as one of the great goldsmiths and silversmiths of the 20th Century – Australian born Stuart Devlin is one such example. Being acclaimed by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths as the designer with “the Midas touch”, he believed that the role for a contemporary silversmith was to ‘enrich the way people live and work’.

The overall nature of precious metals gave Devlin the opportunity to design pieces that added delight, surprise, intrigue, and even amusement. A recipe for huge success in the concept of ‘limited editions’. The most popular being the novelty Easter eggs and Christmas boxes.

Over time he devised and adapted new techniques in producing wide varieties of textures, finishes and filigree forms, resulting in a new collection being produced each year.

He was later commissioned by Viners of Sheffield to produce a range of stainless steel tableware, utilising the stark contrast of shiny ‘silver’ with textured ‘gold’. Although phased out in 1979, the collection included wine and champagne goblets, dishes and candle holders.

A collection of Stuart Devlin Stainless Steel Tableware
A collection of Stuart Devlin Stainless Steel Tableware

The quality, the workmanship and the overall appearance of Devlin’s work, together with limited numbers produced, result in high prices being realised at auction. Many pieces being highly sought after by collectors.

“If I have made a contribution, it has been to add elements of richness and intrigue to purely functional objects such as knives and forks. It seems this element has been sadly missed since the turn of the (20th) century”

Today, in his 80’s, Stuart Devlin continues to create stunning and interesting pieces, from his studio in West Sussex.

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

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