Honourable Artillery Company - An Omar Ramsden Cigarette Case, 1918
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Measurements: 9.2cm (3.6in) x 8cm (3.2in)
Hammered silver. Rectangular case worked with rounded edges and corners, the hinged lid chased with a wreath of Tudor roses and fleur-de-lis surmounted by a flaming crest, the reverse flat-chased with swirling flames. The interior bearing the signature 'OMAR RAMSDEN ME FECIT’, and maker’s mark ‘O.R.’. Hallmarked London 1918. Weight: 4.4 troy ounces.
Omar Ramsden (1873-1939) was one of the most renowned silver work designers of the first half of the 20th century. Moreover his designs have outlived many fashions and combined the ideas of art nouveau with medieval. He was born in Sheffield and was apprenticed to a silversmith before attending the Sheffield School of Art where he met his future business partner Alwyn Charles Ellison Carr (1872-1940). They were ardent followers of the Arts and Crafts movement and devout Catholics, who placed value in the hand-made’ over die struck creations. They won Sheffield Corporation Scholarships in 1893 and 1894 respectively, and moved to London to attend the Royal College of Art. Having won a prestigious commission to design and make the City of Sheffield ceremonial mace in 1897, they established the St. Dunstan’s workshop in South Kensington in 1898, occupying studios in Chelsea and Fulham. Liturgical work provided important commissions, and included items for Westminster Cathedral.
After the First World War Ramsden and Carr worked independently. Ramsden’s commissions came from both private individuals and public institutions. These included churches, colleges, corporations and livery companies, many with ancient lineages and heraldic devices well suited to Ramsden’s innovative yet historicist style. The Honourable Artillery Company with its Tudor origins commissioned in 1928 ten condiment sets, featuring friezes composed of portcullises and ostrich plumes taken from the H.A.C. coat of arms. Charterhouse School further possesses a hand-wrought bowl commemorating a former pupil, city banker and H.A.C. officer accidentally killed in a tobogganing accident in 1938. Ramsden was also the designer of a number of Great War memorials, including one at Southwark to the fallen of the London Hop Trade, and at Canterbury commemorating the Zeebrugge Raid of 1918. His silver work can be found in the British Museum and other important collection worldwide.