PAUL STORR – VALUATIONS, HISTORY & GUIDE

Introduction to Paul Storr silver

The decline in ‘academic’ silver (18th century and earlier) is being offset by a rising interest in Regency display plate, often rich in provenance and grandiose in scale.  The recent sale of The Duke of York centrepiece, a silver-gilt nine-light candelabrum by Edward Farrell, demonstrates this perfectly.  The hammer price of £860,000 matched both its heft (35KG) and its beauty, yet had the piece been made by the famous silversmith Paul Storr its price would invariably have been even higher, such is Storrs reputation.

Introduction to Paul Storr silver

The decline in ‘academic’ silver (18th century and earlier) is being offset by a rising interest in Regency display plate, often rich in provenance and grandiose in scale.  The recent sale of The Duke of York centrepiece, a silver-gilt nine-light candelabrum by Edward Farrell, demonstrates this perfectly.  The hammer price of £860,000 matched both its heft (35KG) and its beauty, yet had the piece been made by the famous silversmith Paul Storr its price would invariably have been even higher, such is Storrs reputation.

How to read a hallmark easy

The early life of Paul Storr

Paul Storr is one of, if not the, most outstanding English silversmiths.  The son of a silver-chaser turned innkeeper, Storr was baptised in London on the 28th October 1770 and would rise to both fame and fortune through the 19th century.  He was apprenticed to the silversmith Andrew Fogelberg in around 1785, although the exact date is unknown.  Apprenticeships in this time typically lasted seven years, and we know he was made free in 1792.  Storr then went into partnership with William Frisbee, although this partnership was short lived and Storr registered his own mark in 1793. 

Storr was a master of his medium and could transform two dimensional designs into three dimensional pieces of plate like no other.  His early work is in the classical style favoured just before and during the Regency (1811-1820).  These early items show more restraint than the works he would go on to produce.

Arguably his most important early commission was the Portland Font, a 22ct gold font commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809) on the birth of his first grandson, William Henry.  The font was designed by Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) and executed by the workshop of Storr, whose attention to detail and sympathy with the metal are clear to see.

How to read a hallmark easy

The early life of Paul Storr

Paul Storr is one of, if not the, most outstanding English silversmiths.  The son of a silver-chaser turned innkeeper, Storr was baptised in London on the 28th October 1770 and would rise to both fame and fortune through the 19th century.  He was apprenticed to the silversmith Andrew Fogelberg in around 1785, although the exact date is unknown.  Apprenticeships in this time typically lasted seven years, and we know he was made free in 1792.  Storr then went into partnership with William Frisbee, although this partnership was short lived and Storr registered his own mark in 1793. 

Storr was a master of his medium and could transform two dimensional designs into three dimensional pieces of plate like no other.  His early work is in the classical style favoured just before and during the Regency (1811-1820).  These early items show more restraint than the works he would go on to produce.

Arguably his most important early commission was the Portland Font, a 22ct gold font commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809) on the birth of his first grandson, William Henry.  The font was designed by Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) and executed by the workshop of Storr, whose attention to detail and sympathy with the metal are clear to see.

Rundell, Bridge & Rundell

Rundell, Bridge & Rundell had a huge influence upon Storr’s career, therefore a brief history of this prestigious firm of Silversmiths is warranted.

Phillip Rundell went to London in 1767 to work as a shopman in the silversmith firm of William Theed and William Pickett.  Upon the death of Theed he became a partner in the firm and later took sole ownership by reputedly manipulating Pickett into selling his half of the firm in 1785. 

In the meantime a man called John Bridge began working at the firm.   He went into partnership with Rundell in 1788 thanks to a loan from his cousin.  This cousin not only lent him the money to buy into the business but also allegedly provided him with a link to the Royal household.  It is reputed that following a spout of ill health, George III left Windsor to recuperate at Weymouth, and his interest in agriculture led him to visit the cousin’s nearby farm.  A relationship grew and during one of his visit’s the cousin told George III about Rundell and Bridge’s business in London and begged the King for his support.  The King was enchanted by the shop and invited John Bridge to meet the Queen, the rest of the Royal Family, members of the Court and other nobility.   

In 1797 Rundell & Bridge were appointed Jewellers, Gold and Silversmiths to the Crown, and also attained the Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duke of York, fuelling the success of the firm.  At around this time further capital was provided by Rundell’s nephew who joined as a partner, creating Rundell, Bridge & Rundell (RB&R).

Paul-Storr-Wine-Coolers
What are silver hallmarks?
Paul-Storr-Wine-Coolers

Rundell, Bridge & Rundell

Rundell, Bridge & Rundell had a huge influence upon Storr’s career, therefore a brief history of this prestigious firm of Silversmiths is warranted.

Phillip Rundell went to London in 1767 to work as a shopman in the silversmith firm of William Theed and William Pickett.  Upon the death of Theed he became a partner in the firm and later took sole ownership by reputedly manipulating Pickett into selling his half of the firm in 1785. 

In the meantime a man called John Bridge began working at the firm.   He went into partnership with Rundell in 1788 thanks to a loan from his cousin.  This cousin not only lent him the money to buy into the business but also allegedly provided him with a link to the Royal household.  It is reputed that following a spout of ill health, George III left Windsor to recuperate at Weymouth, and his interest in agriculture led him to visit the cousin’s nearby farm.  A relationship grew and during one of his visit’s the cousin told George III about Rundell and Bridge’s business in London and begged the King for his support.  The King was enchanted by the shop and invited John Bridge to meet the Queen, the rest of the Royal Family, members of the Court and other nobility.   

In 1797 Rundell & Bridge were appointed Jewellers, Gold and Silversmiths to the Crown, and also attained the Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duke of York, fuelling the success of the firm.  At around this time further capital was provided by Rundell’s nephew who joined as a partner, creating Rundell, Bridge & Rundell (RB&R).

What are silver hallmarks?
Paul Storr
Paul Storr Coffee Pot

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Their newfound fame meant that the workshops of RB&R struggled to keep up with demand.  They began to ‘sub-contract’ to the workshops of Paul Storr and Benjamin Smith, both leading silversmiths in their own right by this time.  Storr continued to use his own mark on the pieces he produced, which then had RB&R’s Latin signature added, which translates to ‘Made by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, goldsmiths to the King and Prince of Wales’.  Storr and Smith were receiving so much work from RB&R their combined workforce grew to over 1,000. 

Although the exact circumstances are unknown, in 1807 Storr went into partnership with RB&R and took over their workshop on Dean Street, Soho.  Storr was keen to maintain his name and reputation and it was agreed that pieces made at this workshop would continue to bear both marks.  The volume of pieces being produced meant Storr’s role was that of a supervisor, with the workmen retrained to follow his methods.  A plate bearing Storr’s mark may not have been touched by his hands, but the mark is a guarantee of the quality he upheld in his workshop.

Another key to the success of both RB&R and Storr was the quality of designs produced for them.  RB&R spent over £1,000 a year on designs and employed the services of leading artists including Willian Theed, Edward Hoges Bailey and John Flaxman to supply drawings. 

All parties were benefitting from this perfect trilogy, with RB&R securing huge commissions from high ranking customers which were then designed by the likes of Flaxman and executed perfectly by Storr.

The fairy-tale was not to last, and Storr left in 1819, possibly looking to regain his independence and artistic freedom.  He handed the workshops over to Cato Sharp.  RB&R’s success continued despite Storr’s departure.

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Their newfound fame meant that the workshops of RB&R struggled to keep up with demand.  They began to ‘sub-contract’ to the workshops of Paul Storr and Benjamin Smith, both leading silversmiths in their own right by this time.  Storr continued to use his own mark on the pieces he produced, which then had RB&R’s Latin signature added, which translates to ‘Made by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, goldsmiths to the King and Prince of Wales’.  Storr and Smith were receiving so much work from RB&R their combined workforce grew to over 1,000. 

Although the exact circumstances are unknown, in 1807 Storr went into partnership with RB&R and took over their workshop on Dean Street, Soho.  Storr was keen to maintain his name and reputation and it was agreed that pieces made at this workshop would continue to bear both marks.  The volume of pieces being produced meant Storr’s role was that of a supervisor, with the workmen retrained to follow his methods.  A plate bearing Storr’s mark may not have been touched by his hands, but the mark is a guarantee of the quality he upheld in his workshop.

Another key to the success of both RB&R and Storr was the quality of designs produced for them.  RB&R spent over £1,000 a year on designs and employed the services of leading artists including Willian Theed, Edward Hoges Bailey and John Flaxman to supply drawings. 

All parties were benefitting from this perfect trilogy, with RB&R securing huge commissions from high ranking customers which were then designed by the likes of Flaxman and executed perfectly by Storr.

The fairy-tale was not to last, and Storr left in 1819, possibly looking to regain his independence and artistic freedom.  He handed the workshops over to Cato Sharp.  RB&R’s success continued despite Storr’s departure.

Storr & Mortimer history

Free of the constraints of RB&R, Storr now needed a shopfront in the West End for his wares.  He was soon approached by William Gray, a cutler and toyman with a shop on New Bond Street and an apprentice named John Mortimer.  Upon Gray’s retirement the company Storr & Mortimer was formed in 1822.  Here Storr continued to produce monumental works of silver, supplying the likes of Garrard’s, who would later go on to take over RB&R’s mantel as the most prestigious silversmith in England.

Large scale and important commissions included a dinner service ordered by Henrique Teixeira De Sampaio, Barao Teixeira (1774), a Portuguese politician and merchant.  Another considerable commission was made by the City of Liverpool for a service to be presented to Sir John Gladstone (1764-1851).

In 1825 the Bond Street shop was burgled, almost bringing ruin to the company.  Disaster was only averted by a £5,000 investment by a new partner, John Samuel Hunt, in 1826.  At this point the partnership became known as Storr, Mortimer & Hunt.

In the following years the partnership became more inventive.  Their customer base began to change, with a shift away from wealthy individuals to official bodies and groups.  These later years see the introduction of more rococo elements, with scrolls and auricular devices becoming common.

By 1838 the partnership was beginning to falter.  In 1839 Storr retired, at which point the firm changed its name to Hunt & Roskell.  Storr died not long after in 1844, having raised 10 children who in turn gave him 54 grandchildren.

Paul Storr
Paul Storr
Paul Storr

Storr & Mortimer history

Free of the constraints of RB&R, Storr now needed a shopfront in the West End for his wares.  He was soon approached by William Gray, a cutler and toyman with a shop on New Bond Street and an apprentice named John Mortimer.  Upon Gray’s retirement the company Storr & Mortimer was formed in 1822.  Here Storr continued to produce monumental works of silver, supplying the likes of Garrard’s, who would later go on to take over RB&R’s mantel as the most prestigious silversmith in England.

Large scale and important commissions included a dinner service ordered by Henrique Teixeira De Sampaio, Barao Teixeira (1774), a Portuguese politician and merchant.  Another considerable commission was made by the City of Liverpool for a service to be presented to Sir John Gladstone (1764-1851).

In 1825 the Bond Street shop was burgled, almost bringing ruin to the company.  Disaster was only averted by a £5,000 investment by a new partner, John Samuel Hunt, in 1826.  At this point the partnership became known as Storr, Mortimer & Hunt.

In the following years the partnership became more inventive.  Their customer base began to change, with a shift away from wealthy individuals to official bodies and groups.  These later years see the introduction of more rococo elements, with scrolls and auricular devices becoming common.

By 1838 the partnership was beginning to falter.  In 1839 Storr retired, at which point the firm changed its name to Hunt & Roskell.  Storr died not long after in 1844, having raised 10 children who in turn gave him 54 grandchildren.

Paul Storr
The 32 Ludgate Hill premises.

Reassuringly Expensive

It has been said that more items of silver were produced in the 19th century than in any other, during which time the boundaries of scale and expense were pushed to their limits.

RB&R and Storr actively aimed their wares at the wealthy with an almost gluttonous use of metal.  For instance, a pair of candlesticks sold by RB&R to the Prince of Wales weighed in at 28kg was sold to the Prince for £1,365 (over £100,000 in today’s money).  The Warwick vase illustrated weighs 16kg despite being only 60cm high.  The generous use of metal is a common trait of Storr’s work; handle any piece of Storr silver and you feel the weighty reassurance of quality.

Their success was compounded by Britain’s standing in the world.  The 16th and 17th century saw the British Empire continue to expand, and each new colony needed new ambassadors and officers of state.  As was customary from the 16th century, the state would provide these new ambassadors and officers with items of such quality that the status of the Crown was obvious to those in foreign countries under its rule.  Upon the removal of office it was taken as a given (until 1823) that the retiring ambassador or official would be able to retain the plate as a perk of the job.  Thus, another vast service would be required for the incoming replacement.  All of this obviously benefitted the likes of RB&R and Storr.

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Reassuringly Expensive

It has been said that more items of silver were produced in the 19th century than in any other, during which time the boundaries of scale and expense were pushed to their limits.

RB&R and Storr actively aimed their wares at the wealthy with an almost gluttonous use of metal.  For instance, a pair of candlesticks sold by RB&R to the Prince of Wales weighed in at 28kg was sold to the Prince for £1,365 (over £100,000 in today’s money).  The Warwick vase illustrated weighs 16kg despite being only 60cm high.  The generous use of metal is a common trait of Storr’s work; handle any piece of Storr silver and you feel the weighty reassurance of quality.

Their success was compounded by Britain’s standing in the world.  The 16th and 17th century saw the British Empire continue to expand, and each new colony needed new ambassadors and officers of state.  As was customary from the 16th century, the state would provide these new ambassadors and officers with items of such quality that the status of the Crown was obvious to those in foreign countries under its rule.  Upon the removal of office it was taken as a given (until 1823) that the retiring ambassador or official would be able to retain the plate as a perk of the job.  Thus, another vast service would be required for the incoming replacement.  All of this obviously benefitted the likes of RB&R and Storr.

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Alternatively, use the form to send us information about your item and we will reply with a valuation.

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