I purchased an Arts and Crafts cigarette box in 2007 from a London dealer. It was an anniversary present to my wife and I was impressed with the beauty of the design and the craftsmanship involved in making the piece.
The box was correctly attributed to A.E. Jones Ltd but at the time I knew nothing about Albert Edward Jones and his firm. I set out to prove to myself that the box was definitely made by A.E. Jones Ltd. Since then I have become fascinated with the early works of a firm which started in 1902 and continued in business until the 1980's. These works were clearly influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement and their quality rivals some of the greatest designers and makers of the time.
A.E. Jones studied at the Birmingham School of Art where he came into contact with a number of well known designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement namely, Arthur Dixon, Arthur Gaskin, Edward Taylor and Bernard Cuzner. For a brief period of time A.E. Jones was also an active member of the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft. In 1902, A.E. Jones set up his own premises at 21 Holloway Head, Birmingham.
A.E. Jones Ltd became popular for hallmarked silver but a considerable number of the pieces manufactured by the firm were made from copper, brass or bronze. These pieces were often unmarked, except for the occasional pattern number, and they are only recognisable from the distinctive designs and patterns used.
Many early designs came from the firm, Jesson Birkett & Co Ltd which merges with A.E. Jones Ltd around 1905. A number of these designs were created by Anne Grisdale Stubbs who was a star pupil and gold medallist at the Birmingham School or Art. Anne Stubbs is responsible for some of the "Neo-classical" ornamentation seen on many pieces around this time.
Early pieces often incorporated blue/green pottery roundels made by Ruskin pottery. A.E. Jones was a friend of E.R. Taylor (Headmaster of the Birmingham School of Art in 1903) and his son, Howson Taylor, who owned the Ruskin pottery firm. The firm also made a lot of repoussé work and blue/green enamel roundels.
A number of pieces are ecclesiastical in style which stems from A.E. Jones apprenticeship with the ecclesiastical metalworkers, Woodward's of Paradise street and Hardman Powell. The firm made numerous bespoke pieces for religious institutions throughout its history.
A.E Jones is recognised as an important designer and maker of silver and metalware in the arts and crafts tradition. However, there is very little literature available and pieces, particularly unmarked pieces, are often misattributed. My aim is to build up a catalogue of information, images, details of designs, marks and reference literature that can be used by others to correctly identify and attribute pieces. My hope is that this will enable people to fully appreciate the works of this firm and its contribution to the Arts and Crafts Movement.