20 April 2016

Birmingham Artisans: The Samuel Pembertons (Silversmiths)

Samuel Pemberton silver toothpick case, 1793.
Held at Birmingham Assay Office.

There are at least three generations of Samuel Pemberton's working as jewellers and toymakers in Birmingham in the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries. The first lived from circa 1704 to 1784, the second from 1738 to 1803, and the third from circa 1771 to 1836. It is the two latter whose silver survives in museums and private collections (see more of their silver on Pinterest). The name Pemberton was long established as a name in both precious and non-precious metal trades in Birmingham; a Thomas Pemberton was working as a goldsmith in the 1600s (will dated 1640), and another Thomas Pemberton became a very wealthy iron founder from the late 1600s, and lived in a grand house on what is now Colmore Row.

From the mid 1770s to at least the 1820s their workshops were on Snow Hill, the heart of the jewellery and toy making district at that time, before (what is now) the Jewellery Quarter came into being.
Samuel Pemberton nutmeg grater, 1798-9.
Held at the V&A.

From about 1812 to 1821, the third Samuel and his son (possibly Thomas) partnered with Roger Mitchell. At this time they were described as 'jewellers, silversmiths, and watch and time-piece makers' at Snow Hill.  

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