As England’s oldest jewellery manufacturer, we have a long history of making products that were created to suit the fashions of the time, throughout our 230 years.
One of these trends was the sterling silver cigarette case, which featured engraved patterns or hand enamelled designs and bright colours. We are always delighted to see these amazing pieces of our heritage re-appear. We love hearing the stories and history behind these products.
Recently we were contacted by one of our customers who had found one of our old cigarette cases. Mr D told us the details of his Deakin & Francis family heirloom, which had an amazing background. We enjoyed hearing this story so much, we wanted to share it with you.
In 2002, Mr D was appointed custodian of the sterling silver cigarette case, after the passing of his Mother. This cigarette case was presented to his grandfather, who was the captain of a cruise ship that used to sail off the coast of India. It features an engraving that was dedicated to his grandfather, for a “pleasant cruise” with four signatures, also engraved, from grateful passengers.
Mr D contacted our Operations Manager, Sue Tolliss, requesting details of the date the cigarette case was manufactured. This can be found by checking the date letter on the hallmark.
Sue looked at the piece and carried out some investigation and she responded:
The hallmark indicates it was made by Deakin & Francis, in Birmingham in 1930. Deakin & Francis has a long history and started manufacturing in 1786 and over the last two centuries, we have made many items, one of which was the cigarette case. In our basement, we still have old dies of cigarette cases, along with tableware, that was manufactured throughout our seven generations. In fact, our workshops are still using some of the old techniques and these are mixed with modern skills which works very well. I’ve been working at Deakin & Francis for 25 years so have been privileged to see many beautiful bespoke pieces in my time. You have a little piece of history and treasured memories of your family.
Upon hearing this information Mr D decided to learn more about his grandfather. He carried out some research and in discussions with his mother he discovered that his grandfather had lived through the time of six monarchs – Queen Victoria, the Kings Edward VIIth, George Vth, Edward VIIIth, George VIth and of course our current Queen Elizabeth II.
His grandfather was born in 1887 and passed away in 1967. With all this information, Mr D deduced that his Grandfather must have been about 43 years old when he was presented with the cigarette case.
It is truly amazing how much we can learn from family heirlooms. Who knew that discovering a date from a cigarette case could lead to learning so much more? This opened an entire history book in one family.
We love to hear your stories and it is a pleasure for us to help identify your Deakin & Francis family heirlooms.
If you have a treasured family heirloom in a cupboard, in a drawer or tucked away safely, that you believe was manufactured by us and want to learn more, please email us [email protected] with an image of the item and the details you have and together we will piece together a piece of history.