Nathaniel Mills & The Other 'Famous Five' Birmingham Silver Boxmakers
Nathaniel Mills is undoubtedly the most collected and sought after makers of silver boxes, vinaigrettes, snuff boxes and card cases made in the 19th century.
What many people do not realise is that the maker's mark for Nathaniel Mills was not just used by one person but by a whole family of silversmiths. Nathaniel I (1746-1840) was followed by his sons Nathaniel II, William and Thomas and many of the pieces made in the 1840s until 1853 were made by William or Thomas, partners in Nathaniel Mills & Sons, silversmiths.
William died late in 1853 and although there was a Nathaniel III (1810-1873) he does not appear to have been a silversmith and did not carry on the family business.
Some of the most collectable pieces by the Mills family are the 'castle top' boxes, repousse or die stamped with pictures of famous (or sometimes obscure) buildings and landmarks. These, however, are often outside of the budget of the novice collector.
Other maker's marks to look out for and whose work is often available at a lower price are the other members of the 'famous five' - as well as Nathaniel Mills NM there are Samuel Pemberton usually SP (in fact there were four Samuel Pembertons); Matthew Linwood ML (there were SIX Matthew Linwoods!); Joseph Willmore JW (two) and Joseph Taylor IT or JT (only one).