Frank. W. Salthouse     -   Master Craftsman and metal colouring expert

Frank. W. Salthouse had a fascinating career and worked with some of the best designers and makers of metalwork at the peak of the Arts and Crafts movement.

We pick up Frank's story around the turn of the 20th century. He was working with Richard Llewellyn Rathbone (1864-1939) who was a relation of the distinguished metalworker, W.A.S. Benson. Rathbone was a designer and metalworker well known for producing high quality hand hammered metal fittings and copper and brass utensils. His firm was known to have executed designs for C.F.A Voysey, A.H. Mackmurdo and Heywood Summers amongst others.

 

                                    F.W. Salthouse (left) and F.L.Temple at the St Dunstan

                                           Works of A Edward Jones, Livery Street, 1913.

 

Frank would have been working at Rathbone's first studio that was established in Liverpool during 1890. Rathbone is also well known for developing and perfecting the famous bronze colours. It is said that the colours could be controlled so as to achieve shades of yellow, brown, bronze, black and even green or blue. It is highly likely that Frank became very familiar with this process during his time with Rathbone in Liverpool. 

In early 1902 Rathbone moved to London. At this time, Rathbone sold parts of his business to Faulkner Bronze Co. This included several designs and, more importantly, the secretive colouring process. Frank, who specialised in the much prized technique of colouring copper and bronze by patination, also came to work for Faulkner Bronze Co in Birmingham.

 

   Llewellyn Rathbone's St. Dunstan Works c.1893, a photograph

               once in the possession of F.W. Salthouse.

 

The Faulkner Bronze Co reconstituted as Jesson Birkett & Co Ltd around 1904. We know that Frank joined Jesson Birkett where he would have got to know ex. Birmingham Guild of Handicraft member, Thomas Birkett and his soon to be wife, Anne Grisdale Stubbs. Not long afterwards A E Jones Ltd purchased the St. Dunstans trademark and the colouring process from Jesson Birkett and a number of workers, including Frank Salthouse, joined A E Jones Ltd.

 

 

                              Jesson, Birkett & Co, St Dunstan Works, 7 Mary Ann Street,

                                  Birmingham. F.W. Salthouse is shown third from right.

 

Around 1905, A E Jones Ltd was really taking off and the firm was making a number of designs by Jones himself, Anne Stubbs, Rathbone and Bert Harvey. Frank would have been based at Windmill Street, Birmingham and is described as a first class craftsman who was able to do the most intricate parts of Silversmithing. We know that two candlesticks made by Frank were shown at the 1906 Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, which shows he was one of the company's top craftsmen. Frank was also excelling at the Rathbone colouring process and he continued experimenting with other metals while at A E Jones Ltd. The secret colouring process may now be lost forever as it was held in the company archive, whereabouts unknown.

After 1913 we lose sight of Frank Salthouse and it's hard to know how long he stayed with the firm of A E Jones Ltd that finally went out of business in the late 1990's. It's certain that he would have had a few stories to tell about his time working alongside top designers and metalworkers of the period… and of course the secret colouring process!

Fortunately, thanks to Lynn Oliver whose father's Uncle was Frank Salthouse,  we are able to appreciate some of Frank's work from the period…. Enjoy!