A SMALL COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SILVER
AND OBJECTS OF VERTU

an article of Robert Massart,
for
ASCAS - Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
a small collection of antique silver and objects of vertu
(click on photos to enlarge image)
NESME - A DYNASTY OF FRENCH SILVERSMITHS ACTIVE IN LYON

INTRODUCTION

During the pre-revolutionary period France obtained superiority in the art of silversmithing. Although cities such as Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Marseille had remarkable workshops, the brilliant creations of the silversmiths in Lyon resulted in a greater importance of this city. The religious goldsmithing was a significant part of the production in Lyon and even managed to compete with Paris.
About 1300 silversmiths practiced at Lyon till the revolution and 1227 silversmiths and jewellers were identified between 1798 and 1940.

During the XIVth and the XVth century the business activity at Lyon opened to the world, and attracted foreign silversmiths, who took advantage of the liberal regime, which at that time was not available anywhere else.

During the XVIth century Lyon obtained a growing reputation for his silversmithing and jewellery. At that moment the number of silversmiths raised to 524. The workforce declined considerably during the XVIIth century, as Paris became more important due to the passion of the "Sun-King" Louis XIV for golden and silver objects and the important orders the King and his Court gave to the Parisian silversmiths.

In 1668 the state, impoverished by the wars, imposed to the King to melt down all silver objects, in order to fill the Treasury again. This resulted obviously in a decrease of orders and subsequently a reduction of the number of silversmiths.

During the XIXth and XXth century Lyon became one of the most important suppliers of the church, competing with Paris. Silversmith houses such as Armand Calliat (see note 1), Favier (see note 2) and Nesme had a remarkable long life span.
The house of François Calliat, active since 1820 was overtaken in 1924 by Amédée Cateland (see note 3) who's workshop continued its activities until 1967.
The Nesme family succeeded to continue its activities from 1715 until after the French Revolution in 1963. The Favier family was active during 150 years from 1824 until 1976.




THE NESME FAMILY

The Nesme dynasty is a classic example of the performance of silversmiths in Lyon during the XVIIIth and XIXth century, and particularly for the religious silver art work.

Pierre Nesme
Merchant, had three sons, Blaise, Denis I and André-Denis, who all three became silversmiths.

Blaise Nesme
Born in 1698, he was an apprentice of Pierre III Barberet (1659-1715) at Lyon. Later companion-silversmith with Barberet's widow, born Jeanne Guerre. He became silversmith on 6 September 1727 and settled at Villefranche in the Beaujolais region. His mark is composed of the letters B and N, a crown over and a crescent under the letters.
In 1749 he was accused as he failed to stamp the date letter (Jurande) and because he marked the objects with three times his masters' mark. Blaise Nesme had five kids, of which three, Théodore, Frédéric II and Gabriel became master silversmiths.


Théodore Nesme, also known as Nesme Mory
Born in 1736, became silversmith on 21 March 1760, moved first to Villefranche and in 1767 to Lyon. After a seizure in his apartment of 319 gold and silver non-marked objects, he was condemned on 26 July 1800 by the Correctional Court to a fine of 200 francs and the obligation to bring the objects to the guaranty office to be marked and returned to him after payment of the taxes. However, in appeal, the Court turned over the judgment, taking into account that the seizure was not carried out in his shop, that old objects, only marked with old marks, were due to be melted and that nine non-marked objects were not finished.

Frédéric II Nesme
Became master on 7 April 1770 and started his activity in Lyon.

Gabriel Nesme
Obtained his title of silversmith on 21 April 1778.

Denis I Nesme
Denis I Nesme became master silversmith on 20 February 1715 in Lyon. His first mark is composed of the letters D and N, a crown over and a star under the letters. For his second mark a pellet is added between the letters D and N. Denis I had a son Frédéric I, who obtained his mastership on 5 July 1749.

André-Denis Nesme, also known as Nesme the young
André-Denis became master silversmith in Lyon on 1 August 1720. He entered two marks, a crown over the letters ADN and a mark with a crown over the letters ADN and a pellet between the letters A and D. Some of his works prove that he collaborated with his brother Denis I as well as with Mathieu Bouvier (see note 4). André-Denis had two sons, Denis II Nesme and Pierre Nesme, who both obtained their mastership at Lyon at the same date 18 August 1753.

François Nesme
Son of Pierre Nesme, became master at Lyon on 27 November 1788 and settled at la Petite rue des Orfèvres (the small silversmiths' street) in Lyon and succeeded to continue his activities after the French Revolution.
On 9 November 1797 (19 Brumaire year 6) (see note 5) the law relative to the monitoring of the fineness and the collection of duties of the materials and works of gold and silver stipulated:
All works have to bear three main species of marks:
the maker's mark with the initial letter of his name and a symbol,
the fineness mark with the representation of a rooster,
the mark of the guarantee office, denoting the large, medium or small guarantee.

Between 1813 and 1818 and as compelled by this law François Nesme submitted his new lozenge marks to the guarantee office. The first mark with the letters F and N and the second mark with the letters F and N over two small flowers.



NESME FAMILY TREE THROUGH THE "ANCIEN REGIME"
Nesme family tree
(*) Marks are represented as described in "L'orfèvrerie de Lyon et de Trévoux"

Marie Nesme
Marie Nesme was the widow of Pierre Blanchard, a merchant silversmith who entered his mark VEB around 1843. She first operated at 6 place Saint-Nizier, Lyon and later at 4 place de l'Herberie, Lyon.

Berger-Nesme
The associates Charles-Frédéric Berger and Henri Nesme (born in 1856), were manufacturers of church silver and table ware. Their workshop was located at 25 montée du Chemin-Neuf at Lyon and later in 1900 at 122 rue Saint-Georges, Lyon.
They entered their mark, the letters B and N over a chalice, on 16 December 1889. The mark was cancelled in 1924.

Berger-Nesme: bowl
bowl

Berger, Nesme & Sève

From 1891 until 1897 François-Louis Sève was associated with Charles-Frédéric Berger and Henri Nesme. The workshop remained 122 rue Saint-Georges at Lyon. The mark also remained unchanged, the letters B and N and a chalice.

Berger-Nesme
Still located at 122 rue Saint-Georges, the associates Charles-Frédéric Berger and Henri Nesme continued their activity from 1897 until 1910. They diversified their production and thanks to the introduction of bronze liturgical objects the company survived.

Henry Nesme
Manufacturer of church silver and table ware, located at 122 rue Saint-Georges, Lyon. Two marks, a chalice between the letters H and N in a lozenge and the letters H and N separated by a pellet in a square, were entered on 25 July 1924 and cancelled on 31 December 1964.
Henry Nesme: chalice
chalice
Henry Nesme: chalice
chalice
Henry Nesme: chalice and paten
chalice and paten
Henry Nesme: monstrance
monstrance
Henry Nesme: tea and coffee service
tea and coffee service

Nesme & Ollagnier

Their activity started in 1926. At the death of Henry Nesme in 1935, his widow Jeanne-Marie-Louise Bertaudin and his son-in-law Jean-Marie-Ferdinand Ollagnier continued the business still located at 122 rue Saint-Georges, Lyon.

Nesme & Ollagnier: tea and coffee service
tea and coffee service
Nesme & Ollagnier: catalog
catalog
Nesme & Ollagnier: business card
business card

Henri Ollagnier Fils

Around 1950 the son of Jean-Marie-Ferdinand Ollagnier took over the workshop at 122 rue Saint-Georges, Lyon. Bankruptcy of the company in 1963 and mark cancelled in 1964.



NESME FAMILY - LYON
MARK
NAME
ADDRESS
MAKER'S MARK DESCRIPTION
MARK ENTERED
START OF ACTIVITY
PERIOD
Pierre Nesme
merchant
DN
Denis I Nesme
son of Pierre Nesme
Lyon
The letters D and N, a star under a crown over


DN, a pellet, a star, a crown
Master 20.2.1715
ADN
André-Denis Nesme (the young)
son of Pierre Nesme
Lyon
A crown over ADN
ADN, a pellet between the letters A and D
Master 1.8.1720
BN
Blaise Nesme: mark(*)
Blaise Nesme
son of Pierre Nesme
born 1696, died before 1770
Apprentice of Pierre III Barberet in 1713 in Lyon
Villefranche-sur-Saône
A crown over the letters BN,
a crescent under
Silversmith 6.9.1727
FN
Frédéric I Nesme
fils de Denis I Nesme
Lyon
A crown over the letters FN, a rose under


A pellet between the letters F and N


FN, an ermine, a rose and a crown
Master 5.7.1749
DN
Denis II Nesme: mark (*)
Denis II Nesme
son of André Nesme
Lyon
A crown over the letters DN, a fleur de lys under
Master 18.8.1753
PN
Pierre Nesme: mark (*)
Pierre Nesme
son of André Nesme
Lyon
A crown over the letters PN, a fleur de lys under

The two letters PN
Master 18.8.1753
TN
Théodore Nesme (Nesme Mory)
son of Blaise Nesme
Villefranche-sur-Saône (1)
Lyon (2)
The two letters TN, a star under and a crown over


TN with a pellet in the middle
Silversmith 21.3.1760
FN
Frédéric II Nesme
son of Blaise Nesme
Lyon
A crown over the letters F and N, a crescent under
Master 7.4.1770
GN
Gabriel Nesme
son of Blaise Nesme
Lyon
Crowned GN, a pellet between the letters, a human head under


The letters GN
Silversmith 21.4.1778
Veuve Denis II Nesme
Lyon
1778-1788
FN
François Nesme
son of Denis II Nesme
Lyon, Petite rue des Orfèvres
Crowned letters FN, a small flower under


The letters FN
Master 27.11.1788
FN
François Nesme
son of Denis II Nesme
Lyon, Petite rue des Orfèvres
FN in a lozenge

FN and two floral ornaments in a lozenge
Marks entered between 1813 and 1818
VEB
Marie Nesme, veuve Blanchard
predecessor Pierre Blanchard
Lyon, 6 Place Saint Nizier (1)
Lyon, 4 Place de l'Herberie (2) (1848)
letters VEB in a lozenge
Marks entered around 1843
BN
Berger - Nesme
Charles-Frédéric Berger, Henri Nesme
Silversmiths manufacturers of church silver and table ware
Lyon, 25 montée du Chemin-Neuf (1)

Lyon, 122 rue Saint-Georges (2) (1900)
A chalice between the letters BN in a lozenge
1889-1891
Mark entered 1889
Deleted 1924
BN
Berger, Nesme & Sève
Charles-Frédéric Berger, Henri Nesme, François-Louis-Elysée Sève
Lyon, 25 montée du Chemin-Neuf
A chalice between the letters BN in a lozenge
1891-1897
BN
Berger & Nesme
Charles-Frédéric Berger, Henri Nesme
Silversmiths manufacturers of church silver and table ware
Lyon, 122 rue Saint-Georges
A chalice between the letters BN in a lozenge
1897-1910
HN
Henry Nesme
Died 1935, succeeded by his widow Marie-Louise Bertaudin and Jean-Marie Ferdinand Ollagnier

Silversmith manufacturer of church silver and table ware
Lyon, 122 rue Saint-Georges
A chalice between the letters HN



A pellet between the letters HN in a square
Mark entered 1924, deleted 1964



Mark entered 1924, deleted 1964
HN
Nesme & Ollagnier
Manufacture d'Orfèvrerie d'Eglise et de Table
Silversmiths manufacturers of church silver and table ware
Lyon, 122 rue Saint-Georges
A chalice between the letters BN
Active since 1926
HN
Henri Ollagnier fils
son of Jean-Marie-Ferdinand Ollagnier
Silversmith manufacturer of church silver and table ware
Lyon, 122 rue Saint-Georges
Start activity around 1950. Bankruptcy 1963, mark deleted 1964
(*) Marks are represented as described in "L'orfèvrerie de Lyon et de Trévoux"


ENDNOTE
- note 1: François Calliat was the founder of the house in 1820. At his death in 1851, Thomas-Joseph Armand (1822-1901), who married the daughter of Calliat, overtook the shop and gave it the name Armand-Calliat. During the period 1853-1901 the company became one of the biggest manufacturers of religious silver and world famous.
- note 2: See article # 188 "Favier Family - Three Towns and 150 Years of Silversmithing" in ASCAS website
- note 3: : Amédée Cateland, architect and silversmith, born 19 September 1876 at Tarare (Rhône), died 11 February 1938 at Lyon (Rhône), was influenced by Art Deco and renewed the religious silversmithing in Lyon.
- Note 4: Silversmith at Trévoux
- Note 5: Brumaire was the second month in the French Republican Calendar. The month was named after the French word "brume", meaning fog.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
- Les orfèvres de Lyon, du XIVe au XVIIIe siècle, M. Natalis Rondot, 1888
- International hallmarks on Silver collected by Tardy, 2005
- L'orfèvrerie de Lyon et de Trévoux du XVe au XXe siècle, Maryannick Chalabi & Marie-Reine Jazé-Charvolin, 2000
- Poinçons des fabricants d'ouvrages d'or et d'argent, Lyon 1798-1940, Maryannick Chalabi & Marie-Reine Jazé-Charvolin, 1993
- Dictionnaire des poinçons de fabricants d'ouvrages d'or et d'argent, Paris 1838-1875,Catherine Arminjon, James Beaupuis, Michèle Bilimoff, 1994
- Jurisprudence générale du royaume, en matière civile, commerciale, criminelle et administrative, M. Dalloz, 1826

 

Robert Massart
- 2015 -
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