Ashford Black Marble jewellery – Selim Bright & Co
October 26, 2012 2 Comments
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has bought an Ashford Black Marble jewelry set, consisting of a brooch and earrings set in gold and in their original box. The work is of the highest quality but what made it stand out for us was the box which bears the words ‘S. Bright & Co, Buxton, Goldsmiths and watchmakers’.
Buxton was one of the main centres for the Derbyshire Black Marble industry and the museum has a fantastic collection of Ashford Black Marble. Much of it is on permanent display in our Wonders of the Peak gallery. Most of the work is unsigned and is difficult to attribute it to specific workshops so we are delighted to have the original Bright box.
Selim Bright appears in the business directories in 1822 as ‘Bright and Sons, the Square’. By 1835 the business had moved to the Crescent. They were associated with jewellers and cutlers in Sheffield (St James Street) and are described as such rather than marble workers. By 1857 they are listed in White’s Derbyshire Directory as Bright & Co, still in the Crescent. Bright exhibited an Ashford Black Marble table and numerous vases at the 1851 Great Exhibition, where he was awarded an honourable mention for his work. A decade later he exhibited at the 1862 London International Exhibition.
The jeweller’s box is marked S.Bright and Co. Buxton, so the garniture dates from the height of the marble trade, around 1850 – 1865.
The Bingham Trust kindly gave us a grant to assist with this purchase and we are very grateful for their support. In 2005 they also helped us purchase the Tomlinson Collection of Ashford Black Marble, which is now a highlight of our collection.
We have bought other Ashford Black Marble pieces during the project including a pen rest with a Mawe’s Museum retailers sticker and an intriguing socle decorated with a silhouette. We were spectacularly outbid on an Ann Raynor etching of Matlcok Tor in 2010.