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Arthur Price (1865–1936)
Arthur Price, founder of Arthur Price of England, Master Cutlers & Silversmiths, was born on 3 March 1865. He left school at the age of 14 and worked for various cutlery companies in Birmingham to learn his craft. These were Hands & Company, Potosi Silver Company, and John Yates & Son.
In 1902, Arthur started his first factory making silver cutlery (also known as silverware, or flatware in the US, knives, spoons and forks on Gem Street, Aston, Birmingham. The Company, then called A. Price & Co. Ltd, were the first to manufacture chromium plate spoons and forks, which was the forerunner of Stainless Steel.
In 1911 he moved the company to a small factory at Conybere Street, where he started to cast his own nickel silver ingots. Arthur Price was a great believer in being fully integrated as a manufacturer. Around the time that World War I started, he moved the company again to Vauxhall Street, Birmingham.
The company continued to grow throughout the depression of the 1930s, despite fire breaking out in the Gem Street factory on 6 November 1934. (read the original news article). Arthur died on 20 February 1936 at the age of 70, leaving the company in the hands of his two sons, Arthur & Frederick. The onset of war in 1939 created a huge drop in demand for cutlery and silverware. And to make matters worse, Arthur Junior died in 1942 at the age of 50 from cancer, leaving Frederick to cope on his own.
Midway through the war, Frederick managed to gain a contract with the Ministry of Aircraft Production manufacturing hot brass pressings, which formed the body of incendiary bombs. This contract saved the company, as not only had demand dropped to an all time low, the Ministry of Labour were threatening to close the factory to release what was left of its workforce. The very war which threatened the company offered it a life line. Arthur Price & Co. Ltd continued making munitions for the remainder of the war.
After the 2nd World War ended, cutlery production started again and in the immediate post war years demand outstripped supply. Cutlers could sacrifice quality and sell anything, but Arthur Price & Co were determined to go against this trend and insist on returning to their pre-war standards of only selling the finest quality cutlery.
During the late 1940s, Arthur Price & Co acquired an even larger cutlery factory in Sheffield and in the years that followed the company became the largest manufacturer of Stainless Steel cutlery in the country. By this time, the company was being run by John Price, son of Frederick.
In 1964, John Price took the adventurous step to rename Arthur Price & Co as Arthur Price of England. He wanted to emphasise the company's expertise as an English cutlery manufacturer based in Birmingham and Sheffield. In the years that followed, the Arthur Price of England brand grew steadily. A notable achievement was designing and making the cutlery for Concorde in 1976.
In 1982, Arthur Price of England ended its long association with Birmingham by relocating to its current head office in Lichfield, Staffordshire. This saw the company's entire cutlery manufacturing operations move to Sheffield.
Arthur Price in recent years
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Since its creation in 1902 right up to the mid-1980s, Arthur Price & Co only manufactured classic, English cutlery predominantly in the traditional 'parish' patterns. This was a very limited product range, but had successfully sustained the company for over 80 years.
However, during the 1980s the market was changing. In response to this the company started to add to its product range quite significantly. This process of product development continued over the following three decades to what we see today. The company took its first steps to diversify beyond just cutlery with the introduction of classic silver tableware and gifts.
In 1988 the company was granted its second Royal Warrant, this time to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Also in this year, Arthur Price added to its range of skills by buying Charles Kirkby, a cutlery cabinet manufacturer based in Sheffield.
In 1992, the company introduced its first cutlery range that wasn't manufactured in the UK. The market had changed quite considerably by now and there was huge growth in the amount of product imported from the Far East. Arthur Price knew it had to respond to this move in the market and its first range produced in the Far East, Arthur Price International, was launched alongside its UK made collections.
In 1993, it bought another cutlery manufacturer in Sheffield, called A. Deeley (Cutlery Manufacturers) Ltd, and gradually over time amalgamated all of its cutlery manufacturing operations into the A. Deeley factory.
In 1994 Arthur Price bought its major UK competitor, George Butler, which significantly increased its market share in the UK. As part of this deal, Arthur Price also became the sole distributor in the UK of the leading French cutlery brand, Guy Degrenne.
By 1997, the market was crying out for more contemporary designs with a huge growth of consumers' interest in home interiors and design. Arthur Price launched its first contemporary cutlery designs in 1997 in response to this market change. This was an important step for the company, and more and more contemporary cutlery designs have been added to the product range to sit alongside its renowned classic designs. Today, Arthur Price sell more contemporary cutlery than it does classic.
The company's move into contemporary design took another leap forward in 2000 when it linked up with interior designer, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Laurence designed a range of cutlery patterns and they were launched onto the market. They were the original designer cutlery and started a trend of using famous designers in housewares & tabletop that many companies have since followed. Arthur Price's relationship with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen continues to this day and now includes a range of china mugs and the 'Let Them Eat Cake' collection.
In 2001, Arthur Price linked up with one of the world's most famous photographers, Lord Patrick Lichfield, to design and launch the Lichfield Photograph Frame Collection. This also continued Arthur Price's Royal connections, Lord Lichfield being The Queen's cousin.
Another famous name, Jean-Christophe Novelli also teamed up with Arthur Price to create a branded range of kitchenware called Novelli by Arthur Price, featuring Jean-Christophe's own invention, the 'Versi-Tool'.
In March 2010, Arthur Price launched a new range of cutlery produced in collaboration with renowned cookery and lifestyle writer, entrepreneur and designer Sophie Conran. The 'Rivelin' design has been an out and out success with a diverse selection of tableware accessories adding to the range's collectibility.
In 2008 an entry level brand Arthur Price Kitchen (APK) was launched, the range included 30 piece cutlery sets that included an additional 6 teaspoons based on research that these items have a tendency to go missing. As well as cutlery sets APK also features accessories such as cheese knives and a collection of ceramic pieces.
At the other end of the scale, Arthur Price continues to produce cutlery for luxury interior designer Clive Christian.
Similarly, the Arthur Price of England collection of fine English cutlery also features seven bespoke designs available in sterling silver. Each piece of sterling silver hollow handle cutlery is hand made to order in Sheffield.
The Lichfield Collection of photoframes was replaced by Cherish in 2012.