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Aberdeen Scottish Provincial Silver

By the turn of the 18th century, Scottish silversmiths were starting to gain a strong reputation for the quality of their work. By the 19th century, you could find many pieces of cutlery, snuff boxes, and various items created from silver by theses remarkable silversmiths. What is most noted is the austerity along with the simplicity that denotes much of their work.


While creating works of silver goes back thousands of years, in Scotland the craft of making silver items as we know it started in earnest in the 17th century. This is when silver was being discovered and used with greater regularity for creating common household items. Silver was malleable enough to be crafted into all types of shapes and when mixed with the right metals, sturdy enough to last a long time.

Most of the early Scottish silversmiths created common household items denoted for their practical use and not for display as the vast majority of their surviving pieces have become. The most prominent of the silver items created either went to the church, where many of the surviving pieces remain. Or, they were used for drinking purposes as cups were a popular item made from silver.

Aberdeen was one of the centres of Scottish silversmiths thanks to the supply of silver and favourable laws that helps foster the market. It should be noted that when silversmithing took off in earnest, most of the supply of silver came from the clients themselves. Plus, there was little effort to use the Glasgow or Edinburgh assay offices for hallmarking purposes. This meant that each piece was usually stamped with a town symbol of where it was made and the initials of the silversmith.

Prominent Silversmiths of Aberdeen

For those who are interested in collecting some of the silver cutlery, spoons, and other valuable creations of famous Scottish silversmiths, there are a few names that you should be aware of in your quest. Some of the more prominent silversmiths, particularly of the 18th and 19th centuries include the following;

Of course, these were not the only Scottish silversmiths in Aberdeen, but they were among the most prominent of the era.

Many of the silversmiths such as James Erskine were prominent around the turn of the 19th century, creating items that were commonly used in prominent homes in the region. For those who purchased such items, the initials of the silversmith represented quality they could trust.

William Jamieson’s work as noted for its complexity and artistic quality. Given that relatively few of his works remain, they are prized possessions because of their beauty and rarity. A silver snuff box created in 1811 by Jamieson recently sold for £3000 at Lyon & Turnbull of Edinburgh.

The many works of Scottish silversmiths from Aberdeen lives on today in the many pieces of cutlery, spoons, snuff boxes, drinking cups, and myriad of other items that were created from silver. They have become valuable antiques along with being a reminder of a bygone era.

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