Silver Milk Jug
This handmade hallmarked sterling silver milk or cream jug is part of a matching tea & coffee set from the 'Appetite' collection of JA Campbell Silversmiths. An English tea set handmade in our Brentwood workshop by Master Silversmith John Campbell, son Colin and his team of craftsmen. The jug is beautifully balanced and has a handle which is a delight to hold.
Drinking tea, afternoon tea, traditional English occasions which you can turn into a celebration by using English sterling silver. If you take your tea seriously this silver jug is essential. Add a silver teapot, silver sugar basin, a silver cake stand for the freshly made scones, a silver preserve bowl for the homemade strawberry jam and a sterling silver butter dish. Use the large silver salver from the JA Campbell 'Appetite' collection and your afternoon tea table will nearly be complete. Also part of the same collection are a silver tea caddy and caddy spoon, and to serve the tea, a tea strainer. All you need now are your guests! Silver having become the subtle status symbol in recent years now could be just the time to aquire some. An English handmade silver tea set will delight you and be a wonderful heirloom to pass from generation to generation. Queen Victoria is said to have preferred her tea from a silver pot, so the tradition is a royal one!
For those interested in how we make this jug a brief description follows. It contains 2 components, a body and a base, and both these items are constructed using the 'spinning' method. This is a process of forming hollow objects from sheet metal and is an old process which is still used today for small to medium size production runs. It is also good for one off or prototypes. Other industries also use this method. You will often find lampshades and cooking utensils made this way. This technique takes place on a metal spinning lathe, rather like a heavy duty wood turning lathe and involves making a former or 'chuck' as it is known and 'wrapping' a disc of metal (in this case silver) around it using a highly polished steel burnisher held in a long wooden handle and lots of lubricant. The spinner tucks the handle under his arm and uses his body weight to move the disc. As you can imagine the disc tries to buckle and fold as it comes off the flat plane to form a vessel and it is the skill of the silversmith to prevent this happening. He traps the edge of the disc between the spinning tool and a piece of wood known as a 'back stick'. Once the blank is fully on the chuck it is trimmed to size. When the 2 body components have been 'spun' they are soldered together using easy silver solder, flux and a gas and air blow torch. After cooling it is 'pickled' in dilute sulphuric acid to remove flux and oxide residues. The natural gas passing through the soldering torches bubbles through a gas fluxing unit which blows flux onto the article and protects it from 'fire stain' caused when the copper in the standard silver alloy is allowed to oxidize.
The handle is made by the 'lost wax' casting method. Initially a master pattern is made and from that a rubber mould. Molten wax is injected into the mould to produce wax copies of the master. These wax copies are then placed together onto a central feeder stem and an open ended steel tube called a 'flask' placed over them. This is then filled with liquid Plaster of Paris and once it has set, is heated to melt out the wax. It is then heated even further to about 1200 degrees C, until the last remaining traces of wax have been burned completely. The flask is then allowed to cool down to about 400 degrees C and a carefully measured amount of silver 'spun' in using a centrifuge. The filled flask is cooled to about 200 degrees C and plunged into water causing the plaster to disintegrate and allow the castings to fall out. The castings are then 'pickled' to remove the plaster and oxide and then cut free from the feeder stem. The 2 halves of the handle are then soldered together using hard silver solder, filed, polished and soldered onto the body to complete the jug.
At this stage the article is punched with the makers mark, JAC in a triangle, the initials of founder John Campbell. It is then taken to the London Assay Office to be scraped and tested. Once a positive result has been received from the laboratory confirming that the article has been made with metal at least 92.5% pure silver the remaining hallmarks are punched into the surface. This independent hallmarking process began in the 1400's and is one of the world's oldest and most secure forms of consumer protection.
Upon arrival back at the workshop, the hallmarks are inspected and 'set', that is to remove the slight dents put in by the punching process. Following this the JA Campbell name punch is applied to the base and the polishing process begins. First using coarse compound on the inside and outside, moving up to medium and finally a fine compound until the high polish associated with silver is achieved. 4 grades are used and around 20 different operations employed. The jug is then ultrasonically cleaned, dried and packed into specially designed presentation boxes for stock or dispatch.
The design features and quality in every item made by craftsmen at JA Campbell are unique. In the unlikely event of damage we provide a repair service and you can be assured that all JA Campbell products are made up to a standard not down to a price. Nothing leaves the Brentwood workshop until John and Colin Campbell are completely satisfied.