The eminent firm of Hart, Son, Peard & Co was established in London around 1866, through the merger of two businesses: Hart & Son and Peard & Jackson. Hart & Son had been founded by Joseph Hart (b.1788) around 1840, manufacturing art metal for ecclesiastic
and domestic use from premises at 53-58 Wych Street, the Strand, where he was joined in 1853 by Thomas Peard. Peard began his own business in 1860 and was then joined by Frederick Jackson, forming Peard & Jackson. The merged business specialised in brass, iron and silver ecclesiastical fittings, light fittings and a wide range of interior and exterior architectural cast iron and wrought iron work. They participated in a number of International Exhibitions as well as regional exhibitions throughout the Staffordshire and Birmingham areas and sponsored prizes to various Birmingham Art and Design Schools. A number of notable designers, including J.P. Seddon, B.J. Talbert, William Burgess and William Butterfield, worked for the Hart, Son, Peard & Co. and the company also completed many commissions for the architect Alfred Waterhouse.
The company had showrooms in Brook and Regent Streets, London, a factory in Drury Lane, a foundry in Birmingham which operated as the Art Metal Works from 1886 to 1913, and an additional foundry in Ryland Street, Birmingham known as the Islington Iron Foundry. After the retirement of Hart, the Birmingham locations were supervised by son Charles Hart [b.1814], while Jackson ran the company finances and Peard ran the London businesses, with all three businesses entering marks with the London Assay Office. The firm was registered as a limited liability company in 1893, C.J. Hart, T. Peard, F. Jackson and B.A.E. Hart remaining as Directors, merging with Gittins Craftsmen Ltd (formerly the Birmingham School of Handcrafts) in 1919, before ultimately closing in the late 1950s.
This 1877 catalogue of fittings for lighting was section 4 of a 7-part catalogue published by the firm between May 1871 and April 1885 It demonstrates the wide choice of decorative options offered by the manufacturer in the second half of the 19th century and their capacity to customise individual articles to suit gas, oil or candle power. The variety of floral, foliate, scroll, heraldic and grotesque motifs incorporated into the fittings were drawn from medieval designs and were a response to fashions influenced by mid-19th century Gothic Revivalism. The firm was largely known for production of ornate metal work, achieving a high level of workmanship via traditional hand wrought practices, rather than modern industrial methods of production.
This particular copy of the catalogue formed part of the trade library of Sydney art metal workers, James Castle & Sons, established in 1889 in King Street Newtown. Castle & Sons worked in brass, copper, bronze and iron and produced works for many of the projects undertaken by leading Sydney architects John Burcham Clamp, Sulman & Power and Robertson & Marks. Castle participated in the Sydney Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1892, displaying ecclesiastic wrought brass-ware such as gas standards, brackets and pendants, hanging lamps and candelabra, clocks, door handles, finger-plates and lettering. The Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection holds several other catalogues provenanced to Castle & Sons. [Marina Grilanc, September 2011]