Alternative Reference number2008/24
TitleJames Dixon and Sons Limited, Silversmiths, Cornish Place, Sheffield
AdminHistoryJames Dixon founded a manufactory on Silver Street with Mr Smith in 1806. He began to produce Britannia Metal teapots and other items. From 1806 to c.1823, the firm was known as Dixon and Smith. By 1823, 100 workers were employed. From c.1823 the firm was known as James Dixon and Son. In 1824, the company moved to Cornish Place where Dixon could exploit steam power. In 1830 he expanded into the production of Old Sheffield Plate. In 1830 the company acquired the business of Nicholson, Ashforth and Cutts. In the 1830s Dixon also began to deposit silver plate onto nickel by electrolysis, a method that was later to supersede the Old Sheffield plating. In the same decade, powder flasks and sportsmen's requisites were introduced (following the acquisition in 1831 of Mr Batty's powder flask business of Tenter Street) which continued to be made up to the 1970s using the original dies. From c.1835 the company was called James Dixon and Sons. James Dixon retired in 1842 and died in 1852, leaving the company to his sons, William Frederick, James Willis and Henry Isaac Dixon and his son-in-law William Fawcett.

Throughout the 19th century, Dixon's remained one of the leading producers of Britannia metal goods which, from as early as 1816, were in great demand in the United States of America. James Dixon and Sons exhibited at the Great Exhibition on 1851 where the firm was awarded two major prizes. According to the company's short printed history 'as a delicate compliment to Her Majesty [Queen Victoria], amongst their exhibits was a silver and gilt waiter based on the form of the Victoria Regia lily leaf'. In 1879 the 'trumpet' trademark was granted to the firm.

Whilst the firm continued to make holloware in the elegant designs of the eighteenth century as well as the more elaborate chased and fluted designs of the nineteenth century, in the later years of that century it produced holloware to the designs of the celebrated Dr Christopher Dresser - 'sleek objects of great practicality, which anticipated the functional lines of the twentieth century'. Dresser worked for Dixon's from about 1870 to 1883, his designs including tea and coffee services etc. His work for Dixon's is of interest not only for its highly original artistic quality but also because Dresser was one of the earliest true industrial designers. He displayed a thorough knowledge and understanding both of the materials to be used and contemporary production processes and designed specficially for batch production.

The factory at Cornish Place was extended in 1898 and 1903.

In 1930 William Hutton and Sons, another long-established Sheffield firm, famous for their Art Nouveau designs, amalgamated with Dixon's. The elaborate and extremely large catalogues of flatware and holloware produced by both firms in the heyday of Edwardian England reveal a vast array of items were produced. During the 20th century, Dixon's principal designer for over 50 years was Charles Holliday. His designs won various prizes including, on several occasions, the Godwin Award organised by the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.

The company went into receivership in 1976. After a brief revival, the company collapsed again in 1982. The company was bought by Thessco. Manufacturing ceased at Cornish Place, moving to the Gleadless works of Cooper Cobb, another part of Thessco's British Silverware operation. In 2002, British Silverware relocated to Windsor Street.
DescriptionTrade catalogue, [c.1880] (X149/1)
Extent1 item
RelatedMaterialSheffield Archives:
Records of James Dixon and Sons, 1806 - 1980s (DIXON)
Costing book, James Dixon and Sons, 1879 (MD7380/1-2)
Records of James Dixon and Sons, 19th - 20th cent (MD8254)
James Dixon and Sons, catalogue of Sheffield plate, [pre-1846] (BR/5/16)
James Dixon and Sons, catalogue of Britannia metal ware, [post-1842] (BR/5/17)
Plans of James Dixon and Sons, Cornish Place, 1889 - [20th cent] (MD7770/1-38)
Pauline Cooper Bell, Made in Sheffield - The Story of James Dixon and Sons, Silversmiths, 2004 (BEL/BUS)

Sheffield Local Studies Library:
Various printed trade catalogues, James Dixon and Sons, 20th cent (TRC DIXO)
CustodialHistoryItem passed to Museums Sheffield (SGMT) by a former apprentice of James Dixon's who worked for the company during the 1950s and 1960s. Subsequently deposited with Sheffield Archives.
AcquisitionSourceThis item was deposited by a private individual (via SGMT) in 2008.
ArchNoteCatalogue prepared by Cheryl Bailey, Apr 2016.
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2024