GERALD BENNEY:  An 18 carat gold
Lot 623
GERALD BENNEY: A unique and fine 18 carat gold, boulder opal and enamelled oval box, London 1972, also with master enamellers mark for Robert Vidal Winter,
Sold for £36,000 (US$ 46,742) inc. premium

Lot Details
GERALD BENNEY:  An 18 carat gold, boulder opal and enamelled oval box,  by Gerald Benney, London 1972 GERALD BENNEY:  An 18 carat gold, boulder opal and enamelled oval box,  by Gerald Benney, London 1972 GERALD BENNEY:  An 18 carat gold, boulder opal and enamelled oval box,  by Gerald Benney, London 1972
GERALD BENNEY: A unique and fine 18 carat gold, boulder opal and enamelled oval box,
London 1972, also with master enamellers mark for Robert Vidal Winter,
the cover mounted with an oval 9cm x 7.3cm boulder opal matrix, the slightly raised polished rim with a narrow white enamelled band, the hinged cover and lower body with polished bands centred with vibrant red translucent enamelled bands over a bark-effect textured ground, the front with polished gold thumb reserve enamelled in white with a stylised motif, inside of cover with rayed textured surface, the rest of the interior with a polished surface, the underside with rayed textured base, also stamped "GERALD BENNEY LONDON", length 9.9cm x 8.1cm.


  • This lot includes the working design drawing as illustrated.

    The Benney family view this box as one of Gerald's finest. Featuring his mastered enamelling and Benney texture.
    By family repute Gerald Benney believed that this boulder opal matrix was originally cut for a centrepiece in the Great Exhibtion of 1851 held at Crystal Palace.
    This box is illustrated in the book Gerald Benney Goldsmith fifty years at the bench by Graham Hughes.

    Gerald Benney decided that his home at Beenham House in Berkshire was the place to develop the use of enamels. The first steps were to travel to Zurich to find an enameller who worked for Burch Korrodi. By chance he came across the Norwegian Berger Bergensen who had worked for the House of Bolin as well as Burch. Bergensen was persued to come to Beenham House and taught the Benney work force all he knew about enamelling. With Alan Evans and Robert Winter becoming notable master enamellers for Benney.
    It took several years to master the craft. He refined and mastered this art enamelling larger surface areas than Fabergé


    Gerald Benney was one of the most outstanding goldsmiths of the 20th century. With works being continuously produced for over fifty years, from private commissions to mass production.
    Born in Hull, Yorkshire in 1930. His mother Aileen was a talented silversmith and his Father Ernest was Principal of Brighton College of Art. It was at Brighton College of Art between 1946-1948 he trained as a silversmith under Dunstan Pruden. After two years national service with the Royal Army Service Corps he went to the Royal College of Art under Professor Robert Goodden. In his first year he was awarded a Prince of Wales scholarship.
    Not only is he known for his designs in silver in his early years Benney also used other material to design a range of products including clocks, lamps and prams.

    Benney found his first workshop at Suffolk House Whitfield Place off the Tottenham Court Road in London during his last term at RCA. It was at the RCA that Benney met fellow silversmiths David Mellor and Robert Welch, between them they were to revolutionise post war silver design. Also at this time he met the jeweller John Donald.

    Early in his career Benney discovered, by accident, the distinctive surface texturing of silver that was to become his signature. He inadvertently used a hammer with a damaged head while producing a cup and liked the effect. This surface texturing soon became known as "Benney Bark Finish". The finish was widely imitated and dominated contemporary silver design for almost two decades. Its success was, not only, for its new contemporary look but, also, for the practical reasons that it almost eliminated tarnish and fingerprints.

    In 1963, Benney moved to Beenham House near Reading. It was here that he decided to develop the use of enamels. Starting in 1968 he revived the almost-lost art of enamelling, he went on to be one of the world's foremost modern enamellers. In 1969, he moved his London studio to Falcon Wharf, Bankside where he ended up employing 22 people.

    In 1973 Benney moved his workshop to warehouses in Bear Lane, Southwark. Also in this year Goldsmith's Hall held a major retrospective of his work.
    In 1974 he received his first Royal Warrant granted by The Queen. In 1975 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. In 1980 a fourth Royal Warrant was granted from HRH The Prince of Wales. Becoming the first craftsman to hold four Royal Warrants simultaneously,

    Between 1957 – 69 he was a consultant designer for Viners, designing domestic pieces for production in silver, pewter and stainless steel. Particularly to note his cutlery designs in stainless steel. In 1971 he was given the award Royal Designer for Industry. He was Professor of Silversmithing and Jewellery at the Royal College of Art from 1974 to 1983. His work in silver gained him many patrons

    In 1993, together with his son Simon, they opened a shop at 73 Walton Street, Knightsbridge. In 1995 was awarded a CBE.

    Benney's work can be seen in many collections worldwide, including those of the Victoria and Albert Museum and Goldsmiths' Company.
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