24/04/2023 General News
We have a fabulous early 20th century 18 carat gold compact in our Jewellery and Watches Sale on Wednesday 26 April that is expected to reach between £7,000 and £9,000.
Dating from 1912, it has a finely decorated cushion form lid with foliate engraved borders and carries the hallmark Sampson Mordan & Co, London 1912.
Although no longer in existence, this prestigious company holds a place in the entrepreneurial hall of fame as its founder Sampson Mordan (1790 – 1843) was the co-inventor of the first mechanical pencil along with John Isaac Hawkins. They developed an internal mechanism for propelling the graphite ‘lead’ shaft forward during use, which was a great improvement on the commonly used leadholders that merely clutched the pencil lead to hold it into a single position.
Eventually, Mordan bought out Hawkins and entered into a business partnership with Gabriel Riddle, an established stationer. From 1823 to 1837, the pair manufactured and sold mechanical silver pencils with the marking ‘SMGR’. This partnership dissolved, and Mordan continued to sell his pencils as ‘S. Mordan & Co.’, adding many other types of silver and gold items to his product lines.
Upon Mordan's death in 1843, his two sons (Sampson Junior and Augustus) inherited the firm and continued this tradition until 1941, when their factory was destroyed by bombs during the London Blitz.
The compact is a fine example of the products coming out of the factory in its later years and is beautifully presented in a fitted morocco case. It opens with a push button to reveal a mirrored interior and two hinged compartments and measures 8.5cm by 7cm.