The town of Greenock was once a centre of the Scottish silver industry. Many silversmiths lived and worked in Greenock. They created all types of cutlery, spoons, and other household items from silver. Greenock was the home to many of the more famous silversmiths of Scotland.
The Beginning of an Era
Scottish and English silversmiths began to rise in prominence around the 15th century, towards the end of the Medieval era. Advancing technology in terms of creating items from precious metals were becoming more available. At this time additional mines of silver were being discovered and more people were wanting items made from silver. This led to a growth in the number of silversmiths across this part of the world.
By the 18th century, silversmiths started to pop up in towns such as Greenock and other areas of Scotland. At first, they would take in the silver from their customers and fashion new works from them. But as the supply of silver grew, so too did they expand their work. As a result, they created many remarkable items for everyday use. Cutlery, spoons, and other utensils were quite common. This was mostly due to silver being well suited for such items. As the quality improved, many silversmiths were becoming recognized for their work.
Famous Silversmiths of Greenock
Greenock was officially established as a port in 1669 and soon became important for shipbuilding. The result was a growing middle class combined with the import of many different materials, so it was not surprising that many silversmiths decided to work in this town. There were several prominent silversmiths who applied their craft in the town of Greenock during the height of this era.
We know these men mostly by their work which began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This was a time before mass production when silversmiths created many unique cutlery items. We know these silversmiths by their personal inscription and hallmarks that identified their work. As the hallmarks became an official identification for quality, this only bolstered the reputation of works of silver from this community. The hallmark of Greenock was the anchor, as befitting their focus on shipbuilding. The silversmiths would add their own identification which was usually in the form of their initials that identified their personal work.
The End of an Era
The coming of mass production combined with a drop of interest in personally crafted cutlery items spelled the end of this remarkable era. By the middle of the 19th century, many silversmiths had moved to other positions or were working at a greatly reduced rate. While there are still silversmiths, they mostly produce specialty items or works of art instead of the common cutlery, spoons, and the like that we see today. However, the work of the great silversmiths in Greenock still lives on as the demand for their items continues to flourish. With many of their Scottish silver works on the market and as part of private collections along with museums, this remarkable era will never be forgotten.