Retro: A glittering history

Fattorini, Sheffield Jewellers - 1965
Fattorini, Sheffield Jewellers - 1965
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Our Retro A to Z of jobs looks at Sheffield’s sparkling history of jewellers. The Mappin family were certainly young starters.

In 1775, aged 18, Jonathan Mappin started a small cutlery workshop in Sheffield, recording the first Mappin hallmark at the assay office within a year.

Mappin & Webb, Jewellers, Sheffield - 1983

Mappin & Webb, Jewellers, Sheffield - 1983

In 1780 Jonathan was given the Freedom of the Cutlers Company.

His son Joseph also became a Freeman, then came his grandson, another Joseph.

The firm’s website says that the company’s most significant expansion came in the mid-19th century when Jonathan’s four great grandsons incorporated the business as Mappin Brothers Ltd. The youngest brother, Jonathan Newton Mappin, was only 14 years old in 1852.

One brother, Sir William Mappin, left in 1859 to become the senior partner at Thomas Turton & Sons’ steel mill, giving his share of Mappin Brothers to the others.

Mr Roland Robinson, one of the longest serving employees at H.L. Brown Jewellers, Sheffield - 5th December 1983

Mr Roland Robinson, one of the longest serving employees at H.L. Brown Jewellers, Sheffield - 5th December 1983

A year later, young John Mappin, who was now 22 years old, started Mappin & Company, opening a store in Oxford Street, London.

Mappin & Webb Ltd was first recorded in 1889, focused on manufacturing based in Sheffield.

The original Mappin Brothers Ltd, run by middle brothers, Joseph and Edward,opened stores all over the British Empire.

They were succeeded by Edward’s son Charles Mappin, who eventually sold the business in 1884.

The official opening of the H.L. Brown new shop in Barker's Pool, Sheffield, was performed by TV star, Jan Francis, when she was welcomed by Mr Michael Frampton (Managing Director and great grandson of the founder0.  Jan was wearing �250,000 of jewellery for the visit on 2nd May 1986

The official opening of the H.L. Brown new shop in Barker's Pool, Sheffield, was performed by TV star, Jan Francis, when she was welcomed by Mr Michael Frampton (Managing Director and great grandson of the founder0. Jan was wearing �250,000 of jewellery for the visit on 2nd May 1986

The luxury brand Mappin and Webb still survives, and the position of Crown Jeweller is a title that is held by the Mappin & Webb master craftsman.

HL Brown was founded in Sheffield in 1861 by Harris Brown, who started by repairing watches and clocks in the Lower Don Valley.

The firm has expanded over the years but is still run by the same family after five generations.

Their shop, at the corner of Barkers Pool, is well known for being the source of a time signal that sounds at 1pm every day.

It dates back to 1874, when the time clocks and watches showed could vary by as much as 30 minutes across the country.

The signal was relayed to Sheffield by telegraph, so that the company could ensure the clock it used to set customers’ timepieces by was set to Greenwich Mean Time and people check their watches too.

The Fattorini family firm was founded by an Italian-speaking immigrant, Antonio Fattorini, in 1827.

The firm’s Sheffield shop was long a familiar sight in the city centre.

Fattorini & Sons of Bradford made the FA Challenge Cup in 1911, hallmarking it in Sheffield.

Bradford City FC got its name on the cup that first year.

That version of the trophy has been retired and a replica of the ornate design was made last year.