Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Duchess of Sutherland's Cripples Guild

The Duchess of Sutherland's Cripples Guild - to modern eyes a somewhat non PC name for a charity and perhaps the is the reason for it's low standing in the eyes of collectors. You know the ones I mean, "I only collect Ramsden" or "Got any Keswick" types. It still amazes me that collectors get totally one tracked with their collecting habits and refuse to buy quality interesting pieces that they like because it's not their "thing". Time to look more closely and inspire a few more collectors.

The Guild started life as The Potteries and Newcastle Cripples' Guild; founded in 1898 by Millicent the 4th Duchess of Sutherland with the charitable intentions;  "Its objects were to help crippled children to obtain proper surgical treatment and appliances, and to see that they get some education. " (British Medical Journal 1901)
Metalworking started in 1902 producing hand made items in silver, silver plate, bronze and mixed metals. Small bowls and vases are most often encountered. However, they made clocks and other larger decorative item. 

The name was changed to ‘Duchess of Sutherland’s Cripples Guild of Handicrafts’ in 1907. During this period they had a showroom for the sale of its wares at 13-14 New Bond Street, London. Finally the Guild closed in 1922.

Generally their wares have a hand beaten finish and decorated with either repousse patterns or cast applied bands and decoration. Items are easy to recognize as they have stamped marks of a crown over DSCG. There is reference to silver mounted items with Birmingham hall marks. Particularly a claret jug listed on www.claretjugs.com, with a body by Bernard Moore and mounts designed by Francis Arthur Edwards. 

In addition to the metal ware the Guild published at least one book. This was a volume of poems titled  "Wayfarers' Love" edited by the Duchess and published by Archibald Constable in 1904. It's cover was designed by Walter Crane with gilt decorated full vellum; limited to 100 numbered copies signed by the Duchess. (there was an open edition as well) It included works by Thomas Hardy, Austin Dobson, Arthur Symons, John Masefield, W.B. Yeats, Andrew Lang, Alice Meynell and others.

Milicent the 4th Duchess of Sutherland (1867-1955) was a respected social reformer in the potteries of Staffordshire. She was Lady Millicent St. Clair Erskine, the daughter of the Lord and Lady Rosslyn. Her first husband was Cromartie, 4th Duke of Sutherland (1851-1913). They lived at Trentham Hall until Millicent and her husband gave their home to the city of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910.
On the death of the 4th Duke in 1913, she had remarried, and married again after a divorce. During the First World War she served as a nurse in Namur. Millicent, Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, died in August 1955. 

Here are a few more pictures of Guild items.

Internet references;
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