Ammonite Art Ltd, Ammonite silver, Ammonite sterling, Boehm bronze sculpture, Boehm clock, Boehm of Llandow, Boehm of Malvern England, Boehm porcelain and bronze, Boehm silver ship, Boehm Wales, The Mary Rose
The Boehm porcelain studio’s expansion into the UK widened even further during the 1980s. They already had a porcelain studio in Malvern, England, but Helen Boehm wanted to take advantage of a new trend: figurines that combined porcelain with bronze elements.
In 1982 she learned of a jewelry foundry in Wales named Ammonite Art Ltd that was available for sale. The company had been in business since 1966 and made various sterling silver giftware and small décor items such as dishes, pincushions, thimbles, small figures, and pendants. Some of the pieces were cast via the lost-wax method while others were formed on a hydraulic press.
The upper photo shows the hallmarks appearing on Ammonite Art items; the middle photo is their ‘logo.’ Some items were cast in 9k gold rather than sterling silver. The assay office mark (anchor) is Birmingham.
Some thimbles and rings made by Ammonite during the 1970s.
The Wales foundry (they also had a satellite one in Australia for a time) was located in the village of Llandow, near Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan which is the southern part of Wales not far from Cardiff. Perhaps the owners of Ammonite thought that after 16 years it was time to sell (or Helen Boehm made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.) It appears that the foundry was sold in 1982 although the new corporation was not registered until January 12, 1983 as Boehm of Llandow Ltd. The corporate address of Boehm of Llandow was the same as used for Boehm of Malvern Ltd. and the same corporate directors appear on both companies.
Pieces produced by Boehm of Llandow fall into three categories: Silver and silver/gilt, bronze, and bronze components of Boehm porcelain pieces. Many of the porcelain components were produced in the Boehm of Malvern studio. The Llandow operation seems to have ceased in 1992 or possibly even a year or so earlier. Any Boehm-branded items that appear to be “gold” (such as the King Tut line of jewelry) are gold painted porcelain, not metal; the early-2000s mass produced ‘Boehm at Home’ items with bronze components have nothing to do with Boehm of Llandow and were made in Asia.
Sterling Silver Items
The first Boehm of Llandow item appears to have been a sterling silver replica of the Mary Rose, prized flagship of Henry VIII’s fleet and whose full (and accurate) story is told on this website from the official Mary Rose Trust. This was a 1982 edition of 500, with the ship mounted onto a green marble base which was set atop (not attached to) a dark wood one. The ship is about 6” long, 5” high, and weighs between 3 and 4 troy ounces. Its retail price is not known.
The response to the 1982 Mary Rose must have been positive because two years later a second edition appeared. Shown in the Fall 1984 Brielle Galleries (NJ) catalog, this ship was an edition of only 250 for $7500. Overall it is claimed to be 17.5” high, 22” wide, and 9.5” deep, with a silver weight of between 3 and 4 troy ounces. This photo is the official one from Boehm that appears in the Brielle publication. Notice that the green marble base is now gone, ship now being mounted directly onto a dark wood base with a relatively small plaque attached (shown in the upper photo below.)
The ship shown here in a glass case may have been a custom option. This is clearly the 1984 model although sailing “in the opposite direction” than Boehm’s official photo! There are two hallmarked sterling plaques: one on the ship’s wood base and the other on the floor of the display case. The latter explains the appearance of the second edition: One of these was presented to the Mary Rose Trust in mid-1983, after which a retail edition of 250 was made available to the public via retailers in the UK and USA.
A few photos showing the marvelous detail work in silver and silver-gilt.
This miniature America’s Cup Replica was probably commissioned by the “Australian Collectors Treasury” while the foundry was still Ammonite Art, but was actually released after Boehm acquired the operation. According to the ad, this was an edition of 3000 to be manufactured in .925 sterling silver in 1984, although the actual size of the cup is not cited. The price was $500 Australian dollars, to be paid in five $100 instalments. Although the ad claims that the B-L makers mark represents Boehm of Llandow, I have been unable to corroborate this in any of the online silversmiths’ mark databases – so they may never have actually registered it.
The Mayflower Ship Clock was also featured in the Fall 1984 catalog from Brielle Galleries. An edition of 1000, it is 13” high overall and about 7” in diameter and sold for $1500. The gilt sterling silver ship, accented with bronze and stainless steel fittings, is attached to a green marble base which in turn is attached to the upper section of the clock.
The 11-jewel lever escapement rotary clock was produced by K.J. Bradford in Chelmsford, England. The top of the clock casing is engraved The Boehm “Mayflower Clock”, Llandow Wales along with the serial number (1 to 1000.)
The companion Santa Maria Clock may have been issued in the previous or following year (1983 or 1985) and was likely the same issue size and pricing as the Mayflower.
To date I have found less than a dozen bronzes cast by Boehm of Llandow, all from the second half of the 1980s.
Pegasus, an edition of 25, appeared in Brielle’s Fall 1984 catalog for $5800. It is 25.5″ high and approx 16″ long and wide.
The Centaur was produced between 1985 and 1987. It is 9.5” high x 18″ wide x 6″ deep and weighs about 28 lbs. According to the New and Complete Porcelain Art of Edward Marshall Boehm by Carol Marren, published in 2003, there were only 12 of these produced, although initially it was to be an issue of 25. Copies have been found without the marble base.
The Unicorn was also an edition of 25; it stands 19.5”high and is 18.5” wide. Copies have been found without a marble base although it undoubtedly had one.
Polo Player, edition of 25, dimensions and introduction year unknown. Boehm produced several polo player studies in porcelain.
Saint George and the Dragon was likewise an edition of 25, year unknown. The bronze itself is 17.5” high sans base. With the base included it is 20” high, 18” wide, and 15” deep.
At least three of the Llandow bronzes were exact from-the-mold copies of pieces that the Malvern factory had done (or were currently doing) in porcelain.
The bronze Giraffe with Young, shown here along with the porcelain version of the same name. The bronze is not dated but the Malvern studio’s porcelain is design #100-55-F from 1985. Both are approximately 28” tall (the difference being a result of the different base treatments.) The porcelain version had a companion male giraffe as a separate sculpture although I have not found any photo of a bronze counterpart of him. The bronze Giraffe is stamped Limited Edition Boehm England on the base.
Here we have the same situation with an Eagle on Plinth which is a copy of the porcelain design #40285 eagle from the mid 1980s in both white bisque and color. Although almost all of the 4xx Boehm design numbers came from the New Jersey studio there were a few 402-xx’s that either originated in Malvern or their production was shared between Malvern and Trenton. It is 8” high and has a 7” wingspan.
Another bronze Eagle, this time a copy of the porcelain design #403-22 from 1987. The bronze is an edition of only 15. It is bolted onto a relatively thin marble base, no doubt to compensate for the wide (almost 35”) wingspan. The bronze is about 38” high.
This Bronco Buster has a complicated history. It was originally designed by Richard Sefton for Connoisseur of Malvern, to be produced in porcelain. The convoluted history of this design can be found here. At some point, somehow or other, Helen Boehm had at least one of these cast by Llandow. It appears to be 17″-20″ high; auction listings for this item have differed.
The porcelain/bronze “combo” pieces really were the Boehm Llandow studio’s bread and butter throughout its operational decade of life. The porcelain design numbers of the ‘with bronze’ items are typically all in the 6xx series: 600-, 620-, 640-, etc.
The first such combination piece was design #600-01, a spray titled Yellow Rose with bronze stems and leaves, in 1983. It is 14” tall.
Design #600-19, Magnolia Grandiflora with Rhododendron, also from 1983. The use of bronze allowed for stems that would have been almost impossibly thin if made of porcelain instead.
Princess Diana Rose with Daffodils, 8.5″ high x 14″ wide, design # 600-42 in 1984. This was an edition of 500 that sold for $850.
The 601XX numbers launched at least three series that were marketed solely through The Hamilton Collection, as were most of Boehm’s collector plates at the time. The first was the eight-design Favorite Garden Flowers series in 1985 as 9800 pieces per design. Shown here are the Daffodil (601-01) and Sweet Pea (601-06), both about 6” high. Other flowers in the series are Hibiscus, Morning Glory, California Poppy, Tulip, Carnation, and a pink rose. The pieces are not individually numbered but say merely “limited issue.”
These were followed the same year by the six-design series Roses of Distinction. Like the Favorite Flowers, each rose was an issue of 9800 as “one per customer” with a “30-day buyback guarantee.” The accompanying literature and advertising materials were all provided by Hamilton. All Hamilton items were sold by mail order subscription, not at retailers. They also do not have design numbers, a date, or the Boehm horse head logo in the porcelain backstamp. They simply say “BOEHM”, “Limited Issue”, the name of the design (e.g., Tropicana), and “Made in England.”
The 620-xx design numbers were reserved for the few gilded-bronze (also known as bronze doré or ormolu) pieces. In a 1983 New York Times interview Helen Boehm mentioned these:
Mrs. Boehm said in an interview here the other day that the Malvern studios were trying yet another departure for next year’s offerings. Some of the 1984 collection, to be shown first in New York City in January, will be bronze-porcelain combinations with the bronze gilded, a type of ornamentation popular in the court of Versailles in the 18th century.
The first such piece was design #620-01, the Green Cymbidium orchid which appears in the Spring 1984 catalog from Brielle Galleries. It was an open edition, 6.5” high, selling for $375. This is the only non-miniature gilt bronze piece that I’ve been able to find a mention of. Perhaps the higher-end buyers were not fond of this ‘look’ and found it too gaudy.
The 640-xx design code series are all birds; there were at least 24 of them! Notice that these do not follow in chronological order from 600-xx; in the sometimes convoluted logic of Boehm design number assignments, one can find a lower design number assigned to a piece released years after a higher-number item, because of the subject genre or whether it was marketed by Boehm or by Hamilton.
Marsh Harrier with Water Lilies was the first of this genre as #640-01. It was priced at $2100 when introduced in 1983 and also one of the tallest. According to the NYT article cited above,
The largest – a $2,100 marsh harrier alighting on marsh grass – is selling faster than the Malvern studio can make them. According to Mr. Cosentino, 149 of the planned edition of 300 have been purchased, although only 93 have been made so far. The 12 other bronze-porcelain pieces in this year’s catalogue are flowers or butterflies.
Pintail Duck, #640-21 from 1985, measure 11.5″ high and 10.5″ wide. Its edition size and pricing are unknown.
Hobby with Pine Cones, design 640-24 and also from 1985. Another tall piece at 24.75″, and an edition of 200.
1985 also saw a series of four “Songbirds of the Four Seasons” with porcelain birds perched on bronze bases: Robin with Daffodil, Chickadee with Winterberry, Goldfinch with Winter Wheat, and Bluebird with Rose. The tallest of these stands 12″ high. This was one of several promotional series commissioned by the American Express Company and was a production run of 2500 per design. The design codes on these begin with FS (Four Seasons) from 1 to 4.
There were also two “miniature” bird series, designed to compete with similar offerings by collectibles companies such as the Franklin Mint. Because those companies typically offered subscribers a display case upon completion/purchase, Brielle Galleries decided to do the same. It’s not known whether either of the two series below were Brielle exclusives.
The North American Owl Series birds were all about 3″ high upon plain bronze branches. According to Brielle’s 1985/86 catalog, one could buy them individually for $135, or as a complete set for $1080 including the wood display as shown. Sold as a set for $1080 and Brielle threw in a custom wood display stand as shown, for free. According to the catalog these were “limited to 9500 sets” but did that number include the individually available ones? (probably) The owls are signed simply Boehm as a script stamp. From top left: Screech Owl, Boreal Owl, Short-eared Owl, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Snowy Owl, Saw-whet Owl, and Barn Owl.
Another probably eight-piece set (only seven shown here) was these miniature songbirds. They were advertised as porcelain “with 24k vermeilled bronze” for $95 each. Like the owls, these were non-numbered editions and about 3” high and signed only with name stamp and foundry stamp (BOEHM) on the base. However, these have no indication of where the porcelain was cast (Malvern or Trenton) because they have only the Boehm name under the tail.
In the mid 1980s, the members of the Boehm Collectors Society had the opportunity to purchase a series (?) of limited edition porcelain and bronze fairies. The one in lavender is named Aria and was available in 1986.
Another porcelain/bronze human study series was the four Young Dancers in white bisque porcelain. These range from 8” to 10” tall. The wood-look base section is also bronze and is stamped with the BOEHM foundry name inside an oval. The porcelain figures are unmarked.
The Favorite Roses series which began in 1987 may well have been a Hamilton distribution. The design numbers in this series start with FR (e.g., ‘Casanova’ shown above is FR-6.) Some were made in England and others in Trenton. The backstamps can be confusing because although the series supposedly began in 1987, some (such as this one) have a copyright year stamp of 1990. This type of conflict can occasionally be found on other pieces that were originally done by the Malvern studio but not “copyrighted” until a few years later.
Roses of Romance was a USA stamped series of the same rose but in different colorways. The design code is always F491 followed by a letter indicating the paint color: P, Y, R, and W for pink, yellow, red, and white. This one is F491-R. These backstamps have no date and so my best guess is the end of the 1980s.
Two animal studies were probably among the final items produced by the Llandow studio before it was shut down in the early 1990s – quite possibly along with the Malvern porcelain operation.
The Cheetah was an edition of only 100 from 1989. The porcelain component was made in Trenton. It is 13” high, 24” wide, and 10” deep. Boehm made several cheetah figures but this is the only one that incorporates bronze.
The Thompsons Gazelles Group is an interesting case. This was an issue of 100, measuring 15” high x 27” wide x 14” deep.
The leading (frontmost) gazelle by itself was issued in 1989 as an all-porcelain (no bronze) open edition made in Malvern and given design #201-51; I have not seen a photo of the Boehm mark on the group gazelle(s) to determine whether this group of three was made in Malvern or in Trenton, but it seems likely. I also do not know whether the trio came first or was offered at the same time as the porcelain single. This trio may have been one of the final products of the Llandow foundry before it closed.
If anyone has photos of any Boehm of Llandow items that are not mentioned, I’d love to be able to add them here. There is a direct contact form on the About the Chatsworth Lady page.
For information about the Boehm of Malvern studio, my series of posts about their work can be found here.