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Philip Ashberry, Pewter and Britannia Plate


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Hello, a while ago, late 2020 in fact, I saw some interesting dessert spoons. They had been fabricated in what I thought was pewter but with a steel wire running down through the centre of the spoon stems to give the increased rigidity that would allow the spoons to remain serviceable over time. They were made by the not totally unknown "Thomas Yates" of Birmingham concern. A bit later I saw an image of a damaged spoon of the same style but probably made by a Sheffield concern. 


The damaged spoon seemingly was made by Philip Ashberry & Sons and here is an image with better preserved examples of the "steel wire" spoons. 


We have, already on the Forum, a few passing references to Philip Ashberry & Sons at 21 Bowling Green St, Sheffield including the firm being taken over around 1935 but with the "Ashberry" trademark still being used by the new company. 

              Silversmiths Retail      Ashberry Philip & Sons 19 & 21 Bowling green street 

              Electro Platers & Gilders      Ashberry Philip & Sons 19 21 Bowling Green Street 

              Britannia Metal Manufacturers     Ashberry Philip & Sons 19 21 Bowling Green Street 

 "Ashberry's"were a very productive and long lasting Sheffield family concern so here is some added information. 

None of our references touch on manufacturing of pewter products but here’s a quick note about the metal alloy "pewter". Pewter has been "made" and used for thousands of years and in its oldest form it was a mix of about 70-90% tin and up to 30% lead and possibly contaminated with small amounts of other metals.  This high lead "black pewter" is perhaps what we British think of it being used for jugs and tankards for drinking beer in olden days. At the beginning of the industrial age, getting rid of the lead, and changing the "mix" with about 92% tin, 6–7% antimony, and 1–2% copper and sometimes with bismuth a much more versatile and useful alloy was produced. This original 92/6/2 mix was called “Vickers White Metal” after its Sheffield developer “John (James) Vickers” and has come to known as “Britannia Metal”. It was an excellent metal for electroplating on and the resulting product was known as “Britannia Plate”.  

Philip Ashberry did not start his business at "Bowling Green Street". Apparently the start was not far away at "Copper Street". Shown below, from the Sheffield Indexers are 4 early entries.    

Ashberry, Philip (, spoon maker).                     Address: 15 Copper Street, in 1833. 

                                                Recorded in: Whites History & Directory of Sheffield . 

Ashberry, Philip (, spoon mfr.).                          Address: Copper Street, in 1837. 

                                                Recorded in: Whites Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham . 

Ashberry, Philip (~, Spoon Manufacturer).           Address: 21 Bowling Green Street, in 1841. 

                                             Recorded in: Henry & Thos. Rodgers Sheff & Roth Directory . 

Ashberry, Philip (, spoon maker).         Address: 21 Bowling~green Street, Sheffield in 1846. 

                                               Recorded in: Slaters Directory, Sheffield. 

There are slightly expanded descriptions of Philip Ashberry's concern in subsequent entries, though they probably still made spoons. 

Ashberry, Philip (, Britannia Metal Manufacturer(s)).      Address: Bowling-green Street, Sheffield in 1846. 

                                             Recorded in: Slaters Directory, Sheffield. 

Ashberry, Philip (, Manufacturer of spoons and Britannia metal goods and dealer in ingot and ro).              Address: Bowling Green Street (Metal Works & Rolling Mill); 

                                            h. Prospect House, Crook, in 1852 (home address) 

                                     Recorded in: White's Gazetteer & General Directory of Sheffield  

Ashberry, Philip (Qualifying property, Warehouse and shops).    Address: 21 Bowling Green Street, St Philips in 1855. 

                                          Recorded in: Sheffield Burgess Rolls. 

In 1856, the business was restyled as "Philip Ashberry & Son" (with John A. Ashberry as partner). It became "Philip Ashberry & Sons" in 1865 with the addition of George W. Ashberry and Philip H. Ashberry but that partnership was dissolved in 1871 when John Arthur Ashberry established his own fairly short lived firm. Philip Ashberry (the founder) continued in the business until 1878 (died 1881) when other family members carried the business forward. They became "Ltd" in 1899 trading as shown below. 

Ashberry, Philip & Sons Limited (, manufacturers of silver, electro-plated, nickel silver & britannia goods, metal merchants, rollers & manufacturers of silver & plated fruit & dessert knives, dram flasks & electro-platers & gilders & c). 

                                                                                       Address: 21 Bowling Green Street, in 1905. 

                                                               Recorded in: Whites Directory Sheffield and Rotherham. 

Here are some Sheffield Indexers references for the "Sons"   

Ashberry, G. W. (~, Britania Metal Ware Manufacturer).    Address: ~ Roebuck Road. 

                                                          Recorded in: Whites Sheffield & District Directory - 1871. 

Ashberry, George Willis (, director Philip & Sons Limited).      Address: h. 112 Westbourne Road 

                                                   Recorded in: Whites Directory of Sheffield & Rotherham - 1911. 

Ashberry, Philip Henry (, managing director Philip & Sons Lim).    Address: h. Goldthorpe, 358 Mushroom Lane 

                                                          Recorded in: Whites Directory Sheffield and Rotherham. - 1905 

Additionally for 1871 there is an entry for “Ashberry, Jno. A.” Could this be “John Arthur Ashberry” working in the Family business or in his own newly formed concern? There is a reference that the John Arthur Ashberry concern was at Love Street 

Ashberry, Jno. A. (~, Plated Ware Manfr., Laithfield House). 

                                                  Address: ~ Fitzwalter Road 

                                                                           Recorded in: Whites Sheffield & District Directory 

Here follow some images of "Philip Ashberry & Sons" marks, some with the Sheffield notation. The first image shows a likely early mark, with only the "Philip Ashberry” name and a later “PA&S” mark for "Philip Ashberry & Sons". Also, there is EPBM for ElectroPlated Britannia Metal.  


Now a wonderful spirit kettle that has made its way to the USA 


The "Britannia " mark image may not or may not indicate the kettle is made in Britannia Metal. We know from the earlier reference that Ashberrys were Britannia Metal manufacturers. They were based at the "Britannia Metal Works" and their trademark was ‘BRITANNIA’ (picture and words). They did have an additional pictorial mark of a clawed arm brandishing a spear. To me the spear looks like a flagstaff with a pennant flag on. 


Here now are some actual “Ashberry” pewter marks. The top mark looks like it has the “VR” for Queen Victoria on. The "Ashberry pewter" mark was on a plannished teapot. 


These “Royal Cypher” type of marks can be found on measuring vessels to officially confirm the delivered content of that vessel. This particular Royal Cypher mark does not look exactly correct for that and the mark is on a spoon. I wondered if it was suggesting a “Royal Warrant” from Queen Victoria? But suggesting only because the first gothic letter looks like a gothic “U” and not a “V” to me  

I am equally perplexed about this mark on a 5 inch (12.5 cms) spoon shown here.  



This is also marked with a Royal Cypher above the “Ashberry Patent” lettering. Is the crown with gothic style possible “G” and “R” for King George? George IV died in 1830 and would make this spoon and mark the oldest Ashberry item I have an image of. It looks too old to be a George V, 20th century spoon. Confusion is often the case with styled lettering. Do please help me out with my confusion. And just as I was finishing my research I saw this spoon and mark with “Ashberry's" on and "Best Meatal For Use" whichever metal that could be?



Hawley's name on a knife blade web site has more detailed information on the family history of the Ashberry concern.   

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