Rare set of door handles designed by R. Ll. Rathbone

Richard Llewellyn Rathbone came from an important and very well connected Liverpool family. His cousin Harold ran the Del Robbia Pottery and he was also related to the well known metalwork producer, W.A.S. Benson. After graduating from Cambridge University he trained as a metalworker with W.A.S. Benson in London.

He established his own workshops around 1890 where he worked with Harold Stabler until the early 1900s. The metalwork that was produced during this period was typically quite restrained with very little ornamentation. The items were primarily in hand hammered brass or copper with extensive use of rivets. He produced his own designs but also made for some well known Arts and Crafts figures including C.F.A. Voysey,  A.H. Mackmurdo, Heywood Sumner and Harold Stabler.

Around 1902 Rathbone took up a post as Head of the John Cass Institute in London and sold many of his designs to the firm of Faulkner Bronze & Co. This included the designs, drawing and templates for all of his cabinet handles and hinges. At the time, Rathbone had built quite a reputation for his cabinet handles and hinges and even today examples of these can be found in museums around the world including the V & A and Wolfsonian.

Faulkner Bronze & Co continued to produce Rathbone’s designs and often marked them with their own makers mark. In 1904, Faulkner Bronze & Co was reconstituted as Jesson, Birkett & Co who also continued to market the designs of Rathbone. Both firms actually used the Rathbone name to market the cabinet handles and hinges.

A catalogue entitled “A few designs of cabinet and door furniture by R. Ll. Rathbone” was produced by Jesson, Birkett & Company Limited around 1905.

I have found stamped pieces of Rathbone cabinet furniture in the past but was pleasantly surprised to find an unmarked set of door handles that appear in the Jesson, Birkett & Co catalogue.

Rathbone copper door handles

Copper door handles designed by R. Ll. Rathbone, circa 1900

Rathbone copper door handles

Copper door handle model number 479.X designed by R. Ll. Rathbone, circa 1900