A rare Liberty & Co Cymric silver bowl, hallmarked for Birmingham 1903, date letter “d”.

The design of this bowl is not just early in the Cymric range, it is in fact Exhibit 1, in the first Liberty Cymric catalogue published in May 1899. This bowl is named “the Ostia” and described as follows:

“With a chased rim of flowing stems and leaves, from which four handles project. These are continued to the base of the bowl and form the supports. Height 2 1/2 inches.”

Ostia was the harbour city of ancient Rome (the town still exists today as does the archaeological site of the original Roman town) and I am confident the design is by Archibald Knox. The design of this bowl is radical and modern with “ski feet” (similar to those seen on some of Knox’s Tudric work) holding wires that rise to the rim of the bowl forming delicate handles.  The neck of the bowl is decorated with art nouveau stylized leaves, very much in keeping with Knox’s other early designs.

The original design drawing for this bowl (with hand written name Ostia on the sketch) is held at the Museum of Domestic design and Architecture, Middlesex University (SD 8148). It is model 299 in the Liberty Silver Sketch book, page 28.  The design also appears in the slightly later c 1900 illustrated Cymric catalogue page 63, number 3 – see images.

I have written about these early pieces before, notably A513 and and in my article “Origins of the

Maker: Liberty & Co

Designer: Archibald Knox (attrib)

Date : 1903 (designed 1898/9)

Marks: L & Co Liberty mark, Birmingham,  “d”, 299

Material: Sterling silver

Size: 5.75 cm high, 14.0 cm max width

Weight : 250 grams, 8.8 oz

Photographs and description courtesy of The Peartree Collection.