Adam Burgess

Adam Burgess, known working dates 1834 to 1849. Adam Burgess started trading as a silversmith in Castle Douglas in August 1834, sending his work 90 miles or so to Edinburgh for assay. His last batch of table and desert spoons from Castle Douglas was dispatched in November 1835.

His next consignment was sent from Dumfries in October 1836.  An advertisement in the Dumfries Courier states that he was able "to manufacture silver forks, spoons and every description of tea service, cups, child's cans and all kinds of gold and silver work".  In 1837 he moved to Church Place, Dumfries, and began trading as a clock and watch maker, silversmith and jeweller.  He later moved to the west side of the High Street, Dumfries.  In 1843 he went bankrupt, but was trading again by the following year, also opening a brass foundry.  By 1849 he had returned to Castle Douglas and was working as a watchmaker.

Adam Burgess seems to have experienced the same difficulties shared by all provincial silversmiths of the time.  His advertisements suggest that he is keen to make more complex pieces, but most of his work was flatware, and even then his living was precarious.

Three sets of marks are known -

1. His initials, "AB", accompanied by marks that are a close imitation of the Edinburgh assay office marks for 1835 - 6, consisting of a ruined castle with two towers, a thistle, a gothic letter "D", and a tree mark in an oval punch which is similar to the monarch's head duty mark.

These are not exact copies of genuine marks, possibly so that Burgess could argue that they were not intended to be forgeries.

John O'Reley, an itinerant merchant who may also have been a silversmith, used the same marks.  He was imprisoned for debt in Dumfries in 1837 and his stock was disposed of at a public auction.

Later in 1837 Burgess advertised that all his dies and punches had been newly made under personal superintendence.

2. His initials, "AB", accompanied by genuine Edinburgh assay office marks.

On 28 February 1838 the Dumfries Times reported that Adam Burgess's assistant, Mr Holloway, had absconded with tools of the trade and other articles.  He was caught in Carlisle and brought back to jail in Dumfries.

3. His initials, "AB", a different style of ruined castle, a Roman letter "D" and a fouled anchor.

These marks were used by Adam Burgess and two other silversmiths (A.D. and J.H.).

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