Blue John, Ashford . Condition Report: A fine, important and large George III ormolu mounted Derbyshire Blue John half-fluted campana urn on pedestal, attributed to Richard Brown of Derby, Old Tor and Winnats One Vein, everted rim above a quarter girdle, turned socle, spreading circular foot, the tall square plinth cast and applied with beaded borders and acanthus to angles, 39cm high, c.1815 Richard Brown the Younger was a Derby spar turner who took over from his father in the early 1760s, the works being, until 1802, based in the 'old shop', the original part of the Derby silk mill built by Thomas Cotchett in 1702. In 1793 he took into partnership John Mawe (1766-1829) who later married his daughter, and traded as Brown Son & Mawe until 1818, two years after Richard Brown's death. Brown contrived a number of specialist saws and lathes for the cutting of Derbyshire minerals, chiefly the very brittle Blue John, but none of the firms catalogues or prospectuses survive. In 1802, the firm moved to Old St. Helens, King Street, Derby where the machinery was powered by a 6hp Boulton & Watt style steam engine. However, the use of Ashford Black marble for bases, often re-used from funerary monuments (the original specialisation of the firm), and the fact that their shapes do not occur in Boulton & Fothergil's pattern book, as in this case, invariably suggests Brown, whose works were unrivalled until the early 19th century, and to which Brown's friend John Whitehurst FRS is recorded as taking visiting geological savants, including Faujas de St. Fond, who praised Brown's work highly..
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