Sunday, October 28, 2012

Australian Silversmiths - Joachim Matthias Wendt


Australian silver is a lot rarer than its English counterparts. Although produced from the early 1800's, most Australian silver is to be found from the 1880's onwards.  There was no standardised system of hallmarking, but pseudo British marks were often used.  One of the most prolific Australian silversmiths of the second half of the nineteenth century was South Australian, JM Wendt.  

Example One - Wendt Serviette Ring circa 1890

Joachim Matthias Wendt (1830-1917), silversmith, was born on 26 June 1830 in Holstein, Denmark (now part of modern day Germany). He was apprenticed to a watchmaker and learned the silversmith's craft. He migrated to Adelaide in 1854 where he set up as J. M. Wendt, watchmaker and jeweller. The success of his business allowed him to move into a new shop in Rundle Street.
In 1860s and 1870s, Wendt won numerous awards for his work, including first prizes in the Dunedin Exhibition, New Zealand (1864 and 1865) and the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1876.  
Commercial success encouraged him in 1888 to open a further branch at Broken Hill, New South Wales.  
In 1903 his son Julius and stepson Hermann Koeppen-Wendt became partners in the firm and took over its management.  He died on 7 September 1917.
The silverware he produced ranged from large ceremonial pieces through to everyday small domestic items, such as the two serviette rings pictured.

Example Two - Wendt Serviette Ring, circa 1900

His works star in a number of collections of Australian silver (try googling his name to see more).

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