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Benham and Froud

Benham and Froud, established in the mid-19th century, were recognized for their exceptional craftsmanship in metalwork, particularly in art metal works and lamp manufacturing. Their iconic orb and cross logo, symbolizing the orb-and-cross ornament atop the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral—which they replaced in 1821—became a hallmark of their work and quality. The firm was located at 41, 42 Chandos Street, Charing Cross, London, highlighting their central role in London’s manufacturing scene during this period.

The company originated from an earlier metalsmith business founded by John Kepp in 1785. By 1821, the company, then in the hands of Richard and Edward Kepp, undertook the significant project of crafting the replacement orb and cross for St. Paul’s Cathedral, a piece measuring 23 feet in height and weighing seven tons. This accomplishment was not only a testament to their skill but also a pivotal moment that led to the adoption of the orb and cross as their company symbol when Benham & Froud took over in 1855.

The transition to Benham & Froud marked a new era, with the firm distinguishing itself through a focus on detailed metalwork suited for the consumer market, in contrast to Benham & Sons, which concentrated on larger industrial products. This differentiation allowed Benham & Froud to excel in producing consumer-oriented coppersmith items, showcasing intricate designs often commissioned by notable designers of the time, such as Christopher Dresser.

In 1885, Benham and Froud transitioned into a company structure, indicating its expansion and solidification as a key player in the general metalworking industry. This move allowed them to continue influencing British industrial and domestic metalwork until their operations ceased in the early 20th century.

The legacy of Benham and Froud is a fascinating reflection of the industrial evolution in Britain, encapsulating the era’s innovation, design excellence, and the rise of consumer-oriented production. Their work, especially the pieces designed by Christopher Dresser, remains highly regarded for its beauty and craftsmanship, a testament to the enduring legacy of Benham and Froud’s contribution to British art and industry.

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