Jewellery, Watches, Antiquities and Objects of Vertu (16 March 2021)
Date of Auction: 16th March 2021
Sold for £260
Estimate: £260 - £300
FootnoteSmith & Pepper was a jewellery manufacturing firm in Birmingham, located at 78-79 Vyse Street, and set up in 1899 by Mr Smith and his uncle Mr Pepper, who became business partners after Smith had split from his family business.
Birmingham expanded vastly during the industrial revolution of the 19th century, becoming a hub for new technologies and businesses. Jewellery making proved to be a very lucrative trade and the area thrived - by the 1900s, the trade employed over 30,000 people.
The company traded for 82 years, much of this time being run by generations of the Smith family after Mr Pepper left the business. Unfortunately by the 1980s, the elder members of the family could not secure the future involvement of younger family members to continue the business. So one friday in 1981, the company closed, the workers downed tools and the factory was abandoned. The building was left shut for 9 years before the Council acquired possession of the premises and opened the doors to find a perfectly preserved time capsule of jewellery production, dating back to 1899. The premises is now part of the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.