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Liberty & Co

Directory of Liberty Manufacturers

Aller Vale Pottery, Newton Abbot, Devon

This pottery began making brown ware from 1865 and in 1868 was taken over by John Phillips. In 1887 the works became known as the Aller Vale Art Pottery. Liberty & Co stocked their wares between the years 1887 and 1901. Their work is often adventurous, the decoration free and bold. Impressed mark.

Murlle Bennet & Co, London

This firm frequently supplied small items of Art Nouveau style jewellery to Liberty and Co during the early years of the 20th Century. They specialized in pendants and brooches, usually enameled. Their designs frequently follow the typical Liberty Art Nouveau style of the early years, but are sweeter and prettier than the purer and more geometric designs of Archibald Knox. Murle Bennet & Co were an Anglo-German firm who frequently advertised as their own production, pieces which appeared in the Liberty and W.H. Haseler catalogues. This was not uncommon practice at a time when there was a great deal of pilfering and pirating of the designs of other firms. These were often just sufficiently modified as to appear 'original'. A lot of Murle Bennet jewellery sold through Liberty and Co was probably made in Pforzheim, although the pieces often carried the marks of both Liberty and Haseler. There has always been some confusion about the exact nature of this firm's activities. Their jewellery was close to the Liberty and Art and Crafts styles, but was also influenced by the contemporary German geometric style. Their claim to have designed all their jewellery is belied by their advertisements, which illustrate pieces supposedly exclusive to Liberty and which appear in the catalogues of that firm. They also supplied Connell of Cheapside and the Goldsmiths' Company with jewellery.

C.H. Brannam Ltd, Barnstaple, Devon

Brannam's operated from Litchdon Street Pottery in Barnstaple, and were notable for their grotesque and fantastic motifs: animals, birds, sea creatures and dragons. They frequently used the old Roman name 'Barum' for Barnstaple as their trademark, but their marks are extremely varied, from incised markings in cursive script to impressed markings in capital letters, often using the words 'Made for Liberty'. Early pieces are usually signed in a cursive script with the date, and often the initials of the designer such as J.D. (John Dewdney) or W.B. (William Baron).
In 1882 Liberty & Co became the sole agent for C.H.Brannam and remained so until 1914, when control of the firm passed into the hands of Brannam's two sons. They continues to supply Liberty with pottery until the 1930s.

Giuseppe Cantagalli, Florence

Italian pottery whose wares were sold by Liberty & Co in the late 1880s and 1890s. They made earthenware with painted decoration in bronze lustres and blues.

Compton Pottery, Guildford, Surrey

Mary Fraser Tytler, wife of the Victorian painter George Frederick Watts, founded the Compton Pottery in 1902 and produced a range of garden pottery for Liberty & Co, many items from Celtic designs originally created by Archibald Knox.

Messrs Connell & Co of Cheapside, London

Liberty sold off many exhausted lines of pewter to this firm who produced their own adapted versions, often from the original designs by Archibald Knox. Their shapes, however, were always traditional and the use of blue and green ceramic tablets was seldom as effective as the electric blue and marine green so often employed by Liberty & Co. Most of the Knox designs were sold to Messrs Connell around 1909 -10 when demand for this type of pewter began to wane.

James Couper & Sons, Glasgow

Makers of Clutha Glass, mainly designed by Christopher Dresser and sometimes by George Walton, and extensively used by Liberty & Co as liners for their pewter ware, particularly for designs by Archibald Knox.

Della Robbia Pottery, Birkenhead

This factory was started in 1894 by Harold Rathbone and Conran Dressler and closed again only 7 years later in 1901. The firm specialized in tiles, earthenware and particularly relief plaques inspired by the panels, reliefs and fountains created in Florence by the sculptor Luca della Robbia and his family. Mark 'della Robbia', incised or impressed with ship device and often the initials of designers and decorators. For example: 'C' for Charles Collis, 'C.A.W.' for C.A.Walker, 'C.M.' for Carlo Manzoni, 'L.W.' for Liza Wilkins and 'R.B' for Ruth Bare. Their work was widely sold by Liberty & Co between the years 1894 and 1901.

Farnham Potteries, Farnham, Surrey

Managed by A.H. Harris & Son and operated as early as 1893, Farnham Pottery was sold in large quantities by Liberty's. Their ceramics appear in the Liberty catalogues of the day as 'Green Ware'. The shapes are often simple and similar to those of the Brannam Ware produced around 1915-16.

Gouda, Arnhem

This Dutch pottery centre produced highly colourful and distinctive pottery, frequently bearing the mark 'Made for Liberty'.

W.H. Haseler, Birmingham

Goldsmiths, Silver smiths and jewelers, founded in 1870 by William Hair Haseler. The firm of Haseler & Co went into formal partnership with Liberty & Co when the two firms joined forces to launch the Cymric silver scheme under the title Liberty & Co (Cymric) Ltd.

J.P. Kayser & Sons, Krefeld, Germany

German metalwork form founded in 1885 near Dusseldorf by Jean Kayser. From the mid 1890s they manufactured pewter Jugendstil objects such as ashtrays lamps, beakers, vases, tea and coffee sets best known as 'Kayserzinn'. Their main designer was Hugo Leven, a name to e compared with that of Liberty's main pewter designer, Archibald Knox.

L.Lichtinger, Munich

German pewter manufacturers from whom Arthur Liberty imported pewter, mainly tableware, for sale in his Regent Street shop from 1899.

E. Littler & Co, Merton Abbey, Surrey

Block printed textiles and scarves were printed for Liberty by Littler & Co. (William Morris had his print works at Merton Abbey but his property was downstream form Littler's works. 'We sent our dirty water down to Morris!' was a favourite Liberty remark.) In 1904 Liberty took over the works, and they acquired the freehold in 1922. By the 1890s Liberty were taking up the whole of Littler's production. The firm continued to hand print there until 1973 when the premises were sold.

Loetz Witwe, Klostermuhle, Austria

Founded in 1836, Loetz were glass manufacturers, particularly celebrated for their fine iridescent glass, comparable in type with Tiffany. It was sold by Liberty & Co in the 1890s. Marks: two crossed arrows with a star in each intersection, with 'Loetz, Austria'; crossed arrows in circle with 'Lotz'; crossed arrows in circle with 'Lotz, Klostermuhle'.

John MontcrieffLtd, Perth, Scotland

Scottish glassmakers founded by John Montcrieff, c1864. They produced heavy glassware, mainly Art Deco, streked with various colours and inclusions within the body of the glass, which was sold by Liberty & Co in the 1920s and 1930s and earlier. Monart Glass, as it was known, was unmarked except for a paper label affixed to the base.

William Moorcroft, Staffordshire

Arthur Liberty first encountered Moorcroft in 1898, when the latter was in sole charge of the art pottery workshop of the firm of James Macintyre & Co at Burslem. The two men rapidly became friends, and Liberty's began to sell Moorcroft's earliest range of 'Florian Ware'. After 1913, When Moorcroft left James Macintyre & Co to start his own workshops at Cobridge, he continued to supply Liberty with such lines as 'Hazeldene' (trees in a landscape setting), 'Claremont' (toadstools) and the green and red 'Flaminian' ware which he created specially for Liberty. Some pieces of Moorcroft, such as vases and tazzas, were set in Tudric pewter bases. Many pieces carry the mark 'Made for Liberty'. Signature W.Moorcoft in bold script always appears. Until the 1920s this is in green, after which it is mainly in blue.

Alexander Morton & Co, Kilmarnock, Scotland

Morton's power loom carpet and textile factory produced carpets and tapestries designed by William Morris (not for Liberty) and C.F.A. Voysey. The man responsible for the association between Liberty and both Littler's hand printing works and Alexander Morton's factory was the imaginative and enterprising young Welshman John Llewellyn. Morton's became weavers for Liberty in the 1890s, manufacturing all styles of Liberty designs in woven fabrics.

'Osiris', (See Walter Scherf & Co)

'Orivit', Cologne, Germany

General pewter manufacturers whose products Liberty sold in the early 1900s. Mark 'Orivit'.

Pilkington Lancastrian Pottery, Clifton Junction, Lancashire

Established in 1892, Pilkington's were manufacturers of tiles, vases and bowls, some pieces with designs by Walter Crane, the tiles often by Crane and Voysey. They were sold by Liberty & Co in the early 19oos.

James Powell & Sons, Whitefriars, London

Glass makers who provided Liberty & Co with distinctive green glass liners for their metalwork.

Royal Doulton, Staffordshire and London

Liberty sold a variety of Doulton lines, many decorated with characteristic Art Nouveau designs such as stylized plant motifs.

Walter Scherf & Co, Nuremberg, Germany

Manufacturers of pewter produced under the trade name of 'Osiris' and sold by Libert & Co at the turn of the century. Mark 'Osiris'.

Silver Studio, Hammersmith, London

General design studio established in 1880 by Arthur Silver (1853-96). These studios provided Liberty & Co with textile designs, pewter, silver and jewellery, and many designs for Cymric ware. Later, Arthur's eldest son Reginald 'Rex' Silver directed the practice, at first with his brother Harry and then by himself. After Arthur Silver's early death, it was continued by Harry Napper until Rex came of age. It continued until 1963.

William Howson Taylor, West Smethwick, Birmingham

English Art potter who established the Ruskin Pottery in 1898, producing 'Buttons' which were often set into Liberty mirror frames or into the lids of boxes. Colours, rich and high-fired, ranged from dark blues and greens to turquoise, apple green, purple and mauve.

Thomas Wardle, Leek, Staffordshire

Fabric printers to Liberty & Co in the 1880s, specializing in oriental silks

Directory of Artists and Designers

M.H. Baillie-Scott (1865-1945)

English architect, furniture and textile designer, Baillie-Scott also worked with metal and ceramics, producing designs for Liberty & Co from 1893.

Oliver Baker (1856-1939)

A Birmingham painter and designer, and a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy from 1883, Oliver Baker was a key figure in the Liberty Cymric scheme for which he produced many designs. He also designed pewter for the firm.

William Birch

William Birch, a furniture maker of High Wycombe, provided Liberty & Co with chairs and some cabinet furniture at the turn of the century. In 1901 he was joined by E.G. Punnett.

Lindsay P Butterfield (1896 - 1948)

A fabric designer who worked for Liberty & Co in the 1890's. His work was based mainly on stylized floral motifs.

Walter Crane (1845 - 1915)

A designer and illustrator, Walter Crane was closely associated with William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. He designed fabrics for Liberty & Co in the 1890's

H. C. Craythorn (1881 - 1949)

Craythorn was a silversmith and designer and a pupil of Arthur Gaskin. His brilliant talents were recognised by W. H . Haseler in 1898 when Craythorn was seventeen. He worked for Haseler's for some forty years and produced most of the designs executed by them for Liberty & Co. His most distinguished and now celebrated work, designed by Archibald Knox and executed by Craythorn, is the silver casket supplied by Liberty to the Rockefeller family c 1900 and is now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Bernard Cuzner (1877 - 1956)

A silversmith and jeweller who designed many items for Liberty & Co around 1900 - 5.

Dr Christopher Dresser (1834 - 1904)

Botanist, designer, metalworker and writer on art and the principles of art and design, Dresser, born in Glasgow, was a key figure in the history of modern design. IN contrast to his early enthusiasm for the Japanese taste and the Aesthetic Movement, he was a radical and revolutionary designer of glass and metalwork who fully accepted the machine and the approach to modern methods of mass production, and demonstrated a remarkable ability to anticipate the Bauhaus manner as early as 1879. He was a close friend of Arthur Lasenby Liberty who owned shares in the Bond Street firm, the Art Furnishers Alliance, of which Dresser became manager in 1880. In 1883 this firm went into liquidation, and in 1889 Dresser moved to Barnes in West London where he ran a studio with the help of some ten assistants. Among them were Archibald Knox and almost certainly Rex Silver of the Silver Studio. His son Louis joined the furniture department of Liberty & Co in 1896. Dresser's main practical association with Liberty was through the design of Clutha glass.

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1871 - 1945)

A designer and enamel painter for Liberty & Co who specialized in figurative painting, such as friezes for bowls, depicting figures in landscape settings. She was also a book illustrator and painter.

Arthur and Georgie Gaskin (1862 - 1928 and 1868 - 1934)

A husband and wife team - painters, illustrators and metalworkers - who designed jewellery for Liberty & Co during the first decade of the century from their Birmingham Studios.

E. W. Godwin (1833 - 86)

An English architect and furniture designer, widely known for his Anglo- Japanese style furniture, Godwin was a passionate supporter of the cult of Japonisme. He was appointed supervisor of the Costume Department at Liberty & Co on 17 January 1884 at an agreed fee of 'one guinea for each hour in the studio. The hours in any one week were not to exceed six hours…'

A. E. Jones (1879 - 1954)

Jones, a Birmingham jeweller, produced a number of designs for Liberty & Co. Less well known than his contemporary and associate Bernard Cuzner, he was considered very promising in his day.

Jessie M. King (1876 - 1949)

A Scottish painter, designer and book illustrator, Jessie King studied at the Glasgow School of Art and became a prominent member of the Glasgow School. She designed jewelry and silverwork for Liberty's Cymric range, and also textiles.

Archibald Knox (1864 - 1933)

Born in Cronkbourne on the Isle of Man, Knox, the principal silver and pewter designer for Liberty & Co, created Celtic designs of the highest quality for the Cymric and Tudric schemes. He had previously worked for the Silver Studio and for Christopher Dresser's Design Studio in Barnes, south-west London, and had taught design at the Wimbledon and Kingston-on-Thames School of Art. At Kingston his teaching methods were considered too unorthodox by the South Kensington Examiners and he resigned his post in 1911.

A description of Knox's new Celtic range from a Liberty catalogue of 1899 - 1900 shows how keen Arthur liberty was to promote his work:

The especially interesting feature… is its complete and unmistakable differentiation from all other descriptions of modern silverwork. The suggestion, as it were, having its origin in the work of a far earlier period than the greater part of the gold and siler plate ornaments to be found even in the Royal Collections today, the bulk of which only dates back to the Restoration. Cymric silver, although original and initiatory of a new school of work, is suggestive of a more remote era than this, and simplicity is the keynote of its design…

After 1912, when Knox ceased to work for Liberty's, he went to America where he designed carpets for Bromley & Co of Philadelphia.

Max Läuger (1864 - ?)

German architect, engineer, sculptor, and artist potter chiefly known for his glazed bowls, vases, wall plaques and jugs in stylized Art Nouveau designs. Liberty & Co were the first to import Max Läuger's pottery into the country in the late 1890's. Mark: M.K.L. in monogram with arms of the Grand Duchy of Baden.

W. R. Lethaby (1857 - 1911)

English architect, metalworker, furniture and pottery designer, Lethaby was also a founder member in 1884, of the Art Workers Guild, and Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art in 1900. He designed simple, unpolished furniture, primarily in oak, sometimes in rosewood, and some of it decorated with floral marquetry in ebony, sycamore and bleached mahogany. He also designed fabrics for Liberty & Co in the 1890's.

Ernest Léveillé (flourished 1885 - 1900)

French Art Nouveau glass designer. Pupil of E. Rousseau with whom he produced experimental glass including many pieces of sculptured crackle glass sold by Liberty & Co at the close of the nineteenth century.

Sidney Mawson (c1876 - 1937/8)

A textile designer for Liberty & Co in the first decade of the last century.

Frank Miles (1852 - 91)

Miles was a textile designer for Liberty & Co in the late 1880's and 1890's when, possibly to meet the competition of Morris & Co, began to commission work from leading artists and designers of the period.

Harry Napper (1860 - 1930)

Textile, furniture and metalwork designer with the Silver Studio (c1893-8), Napper provided Liberty & Co with many of their finest fabric designs. He managed the design production of the Silver Studio after Arthur Silver's death in 1896. Mario Amaya wrote: 'Around 1900 the strongest personality at Liberty's appears to have been Harry Napper whose fabrics depended less on undulating curves that drifting geometrized motifs, strident with angular petals and thorny leave.'

John Pearson (flourished 1890 - 1910)

A designer and metalworker whose imagery was often fantastic and highly original. Pearson was the first instructor in metalwork at C. R. Ashbee's Guild of Handicrafts and was dismissed in 1890 because 'Mr Pearson had been outside the Guild supplying Messrs Morris and others with goods…' He was reinstated but again failed to honour his undertaking not too deal with other firms, and was allowed to resign on 29 August 1892. Thereafter he worked for William Morris and later at the Newlyn Class in Cornwall. Although there is no conclusive documentary evidence that he did supply Liberty & Co, there is some circumstantial evidence that he did supply Liberty with designs.

E.G. Punnett (flourished 1900)

A furniture designer known to have worked for Liberty & Co from the fact that he joined William Birch of High Wycombe in 1901. This firm supplied Liberty with a great deal of furniture and many of their surviving pieces bear Punnett's signature.

E.G. Reuter (1845 - after 1912)

A designer of fabrics for Liberty & Co in the 1890s. 'Liberty & Co were regular exhibitors in the various Arts and Crafts Society Exhibitions beginning with a stand at the New Gallery (Regent Street) in 1893. The company exhibited a large selection of fabrics designed by Arthur Silver, Thomas Wardle, E.G. Reuter and W.R. Lethaby. It is from this source, and not the company that the names of the various designers were made known.

Richard Reimerschmid (1868 - 1957)

A furniture designer whose work was imported by Liberty & Co in the 1900s, Reimerschmid first became generally known after his participation in the Paris Exhibition of 1900.

J. Scarratt-Rigby

Provided Liberty & Co with textile designs in stylized floral patterns in the late 1880s.

Arthur Silver (1853 - 1896)

Designer and craftsman, founder of the Silver Studio in 1880 and father of Reginald 'Rex' Silver and Harry Silver. The Silver Studio specialized in every aspect of design form plasterwork, metalwork, furniture and book jackets to the design of complete interiors, and they provided Liberty & Co with a great number of furniture designs.

Harry Silver (1882 - 1972)

Metalwork and textile designer with his father's studio. Influenced by Archibald Knox, he executed designs for Liberty Cymric silver after 1906, and supervised the design production of the Silver Studio from 1901 to 1916, when he joined the army.

Reginald 'Rex' Silver (1879 - 1965)

The son of Arthur Silver and the brother of Harry, he administered the Silver Studio from 1901 until its closure in 1963.

David Veazey

Liberty & Co are known to have put into production at least one deign by David Veazey: the winning design for a silver tea caddy in a competition organised by Liberty through 'The Studio' magazine in 1899. It was produced both in silver and, later, in pewter, bearing the number 049C. The signature used by the artist on this occasion was 'Tramp'.

C.F.A. Voysey (1857 - 1941)

An English architect and designer of furniture, textiles, carpets, tapestries, wallpapers, ceramics and metalwork. His furniture was generally austere and architectural, using straight lines and very little ornament except for a characteristic pierced heart shape, and other cut-out motifs, in the backs of chairs. He produced many textile and wallpaper designs for Liberty & Co between 1890 and 1910. Charles Voysey and George Walton were among a distinguished group of furniture designers who worked directly for Liberty.

George Walton (1867 - 1933)

Scottish architect and member of the Glasgow School, he collaborated with C.R. Mackintosh on the Cranston Tea rooms, Glasgow, in 1897. Walton was closely associated with the Arts and Crafts movement, and worked as a furniture designer in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Leonard F. Wyburd

Although Leonard Wyburd set up the Liberty Furnishing and Decoration Studio as early as 1883, at the height of the Aesthetic Movement, it was not until the late 1890s that he began to design the avant-garde furniture which was to help revolutionize the whole concept of furniture design, not only in England but also in Vienna, Berlin and Paris (where in 1889 Liberty opened a branch, at 38 Avenue de l'Opera). Leonard Wyburd is as much a part of the creation of Liberty Style as Archibald Knox.

Information from 'Liberty Style' by Mervyn Levy

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