Object in Focus: A Gerald Benney Silver Gilt Goblet
Without a doubt, there's something about drinking from silver. The first time I did so, I was struck by how much silver conducts the cold of the liquid, and with a glass of chilled white wine for example, frosts beautifully, picking out any decoration it might have.
Then of course, there is the prestige involved in drinking from a vessel made of precious metal. A silver goblet is beautifully heavy, reflective and soft to the touch in a way other metals are not. Silver goblets have a certain inescapable gravitas, and one is remembered of the myriad important figures of history who have had the privilege of drinking from silver. The metal seems to infuse the contents with a focus and importance that makes on appreciate it all the more.
If drinking from silver has a sense of prestige, then drinking from a silver goblet made by a famous and important maker is perhaps the pinnacle of that.
Amongst the Post War silversmiths two names dominate- Stuart Devlin and Gerald Benney. Devlin has been a big name for many years now. His magnificent silver and gilt creations put one in mind of sparkling towers and alien architecture.
However, in recent years Devlin has been pushed in to second position by the genius of Gerald Benney. His signature bark effect was invented, he claimed, by accident. The use of a damaged hammer created a pattern he thought interesting, and after some experimentation the famous "Bark Effect" silver finish of Gerald Benney was born. It proved so popular many other makers emulated it, but never quite as successfully as Benney himself.
Gerald Benney was certainly a stickler for quality. He maintained a relatively small workshop which he oversaw carefully, ensuring that all he produced was of good hand made quality, and refusing to cut corners on gauge and automated techniques.
His silver speaks of this refusal to mass produce, in an age where mass production was the normal mode of operation after success and reputation had been achieved.
This goblet was made in London 1973 and is marked AGB for Adrian Gerald Benney. Unusually it is silver gilt both inside and out. The gauge is excellent and the piece is pleasantly substantial in the hand, but not overly weighty.
More details, including a price, can be found on my website: A fine Gerald Benney Silver Gilt Goblet.