At the end of the 19th century a Cornish fishing village threatened with poverty reinvented itself as a centre for Arts and Crafts inspired painters and craftsmen, including a group producing repousse copperware.
This is a technique of pushing out the designs using punches and was usually achieved with the copper resting on a bed of pitch.The practice of beating copper on lead rather than pitch was developed by one of the leading tutors Pearson and was regarded as a trade secret of the Newlyn School.
One of the key characteristics of Newlyn is the quality of construction and finish, well fitting lids, and particular attention to seams which were riveted on curved edges. The decorative treatment of seams and hinges and hinges was in keeping with principles of Arts and Crafts in that the method of construction was displayed as a decorative feature.
The Newlyn Art Metal Industry as it was known in 1900 listed over 50 items in the price list and many of them have become very desirable collectors’ items – look out for the Newlyn stamp on the bottom.
The business did well for about thirty years and finally folded in the early 1950s when this type of product went out of fashion. I particularly like the designs inspired by the sea from fishy fantasies to cheeky octopuses and lordly lobsters.
For more about Newlyn see: http://www.artscrafts.org.uk/branches/newlyn/newlynhistory.html