18th and 19th Century Canadian Silversmiths
Below is a discussion of 18th and 19th century Canadian Silversmiths and their marks. For information on 20th century makers see our article here.
French Colonial Period (pre-1760): Silversmiths were known to have been working in New France as early as the end of the 17th century, though no examples of this early work survive. By the middle of the 18th century, silversmithing was a well-established trade, primarily centered in Quebec city. The Catholic church was by far the most important patron, domestic silver from this period being relatively rare. Silversmiths followed the styles in fashion in France at the time and also used maker’s marks similar to those used in France: typically a crown or Fleur-de-lis above the maker’s initials with a small device below.
English Colonial Period (post-1760): Montreal gradually took over as the center of silversmithing in Canada although there were also a number of silversmiths in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. English styles became the norm and silversmiths began to use English style maker’s marks: typically their initials in a rectangular outline. These marks were occasionally accompanied by “Montreal”, “Quebec” or “H”, “HN” or “HNS” for Halifax. By the early 19th century it was common for Canadian silversmiths marks to include pseudo marks that resembled British hallmarks, like sovereign’s heads, lions. These silversmiths generally had small shops, did most of their work by hand and were less likely to employ the expensive dies and castings that were common in Europe.
There was no official regulation of the purity of the metal used in the industry in Canada until the early 20th century and silver was not mined in Canada until the late 19th century so silversmiths used whatever sources of metal were available to them including coins and unwanted silverware. Unlike the Spanish coins used to make silver in the United States at the time, the English and French coins in circulation had a slightly higher silver content at .925 and .917 respectively.
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Marks A – K Marks L – Z
Laurent Amoit – Quebec City (active 1787-1839) Important and prolific silversmith, served an apprenticeship in Paris, had many commissions from the Roman Catholic church and Quebec Aristocracy. His works appear in the National Gallery of Canada, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Amiot had several apprentices including Francios Sasseville, Pierre Lesperance and Paul Morin. For more on Amoit see the National Gallery of Canada website.
John Barry – St John, NB (1838-1857)
Henry Birks & Sons – Montreal (1879 – ) Retail Jewellers and Silversmiths, began manufacturing silverware in 1899 after taking over Hendery & Leslie. See a more detailed bio here.
David Bohle – Montreal (?-1870) Brother of Peter Bohle.
Peter Bohle – Montreal (1786 – 1865) Apprenticed to Robert Cruickshank in 1800, partnered with Robert Hendery 1853 -1856, supplied many Montreal retailers.
Bohle & Hendery – Montreal (1850-56) Partnership of Peter Bohle and Robert Hendery, manufacturing silversmiths that supplier many Montreal Retailers.
Michael Septimus Brown – Halifax NS (1818-1886) Apprenticed to Peter Nordbeck, the firm became MS Brown & Co in 1886 and was absorbed by Birks in 1919.
Robert Cruickshank – Montreal (1767-1809). A prominent and successful businessman, he immigrated from Scotland and set up a prolific firm, well know for Indian Trade Silver, ecclesiastical pieces and domestic silver in the neoclassical style.
George Lacy Darling – Simcoe, On (1852-1899) Retail Jeweller.
Charles François Delique – Montreal (1738-1767)
James E Ellis – Toronto (1848-1871) Succeeded by JE Ellis & Co (1871-1901) his nephews Phillip and Matthew Ellis founded PW Ellis & Co (1876-1928).
Michel Fortin Montreal (1754-1812)
Goldsmiths Stock Co. of Canada – Toronto (1880-1920) Retailer.
Robert Hendery – Montreal (1814-97) Important and prolific silversmith known for producing silver in Rococo Revival style, immigrated from Scotland in 1837, he briefly partnered with Peter Bohle 1850-56, Took John Leslie as an apprentice in 1864, the name of the firm was changed to Hendery and Co in 1869 and then to Hendery & Leslie in 1887 when Leslie was made a partner.
Hendery was primarily a wholesale manufacturer. He supplied flatware and hollowware to numerous retailers and Jewelers throughout the country. His Pseudo marks (Lion Rampant facing left and Sovereign’s head facing right) can be found in conjunction with the marks of dozens of different retailers including Savage & Lyman, Gustavus Siefert, Frederick Spanenberg and many others.
Robert Hendery with retail mark of JE Ellis
Hendery & Leslie – Montreal (1887-1897) Partnership of Robert Hendery & John Leslie, bought out by Birks in 1897. Leslie remained with Birks to run the manufacturing business.
Pierre Huguet dit Latour – Montreal (1749-1817) Prolific silversmith of the period know for supplying large quantities of Indian Trade Silver, may have been primarily a retailer. Partnered with his brother Louis and later his son Pierre. Started business in 1781.
Henry Jackson – Toronto (1837-69)
Jodah G. Joseph – Toronto (1846-57) Succeeded by JG Joseph & Co (1857-77).
Joseph Robinson & Co. – Toronto (1859-1880)