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Ramsden, Omar

1873-1939

Omar Ramsden was born in Sheffield in 1873, the son of an electroplate and silver manufacturer.  

At fourteen he was apprenticed to a Sheffield firm of silversmiths where he acquired technical training and experience of mechanized silver production.  After this he attended classes at the Sheffield School of Art where he won a succession of prizes and awards and where he met his friend and future business partner Alwyn Carr.

After several months travelling through Europe together, the two friends returned to England and set up a studio together in London. In 1898 they registered their mark at Goldsmiths Hall in London and embarked on a partnership which would last until after the War, ending in 1919. Their work drew influence as much from the medieval period as from the contemporary Art Nouveau period, with great reference to the designs of C.R. Ashbee, and they were often enhanced with Celtic-style inscriptions which became their signature style.  The resulting output struck a balance between the traditional and the fashionable. This, combined with Carr’s financial support and Ramsden’s entrepreneurial and promotional skills, ensured the business was a commercial success.

After the dissolution of their partnership, Ramsden retained the workshop and staff and registered his own maker’s mark.  From here on he also frequently marked pieces with the Latin ‘Omar Ramsden Me Fecit’ meaning ‘Omar Ramsden made me’.  The business continued to flourish and Ramsden developed a distinctive house style that became heavier and more traditional than the fluid Art Nouveau of previous years. He placed more and more emphasis on the hand wrought appearance of each piece which he considered a unique creation. Ramsden continued working until his death in 1939 and today he is regarded as a master of British silversmithing.  His work is still sought after and his pieces are held by various important collectors and museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum.