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All about the renowned Danish silversmith and jewellery designer Anton Michelsen, the company he founded, and some of the key designers who worked there.
ANTON MICHELSEN - EARLY YEARS
Anton Michelsen was born in Denmark in 1809. He came from a family of silversmiths and goldsmiths which could be traced back to the seventeenth century.
In 1830 after completing a goldsmiths apprenticeship in Odense, he moved to the Danish capital Copenhagen.
Over the next eleven years he worked for several young masters. He also attended courses at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts where he was influenced by the architect Gustav Friedrich Hetsch.
Above :Anton Michelsen firm necklaces from 1950's and 60's
From 1834-35 he worked for court jeweller J.B.Dalhoff. With help from Dalhoff, Michelsen was awarded the Reisersen Foundation Travellling Scholarship. This allowed him to travel abroad where he worked in some of the leading goldsmiths workshops in Berlin and Paris.
One of these workshops was Mention and Wagner , a large contemporary gold and silver works, and it was here that Michelson learned enamelling.
In 1841 Anton Michelson opened his own workshop in Gothersgade Copenhagen. After a short period of time he received his first commission from the Royal Family .
He made jewellery for individual members of the Royal Family , and was also charged with redesigning royal medals and insignia.
This involved the art of enamelling - a skill that the Michelson workshop refined over the years. In 1841 he was officially given the title of Royal Court and Order Jeweller by the then king Christian VIII.
The company grew over the next four decades and due to the Royal connection they made some of the most distinctive and spectacular Danish jewellery and silverware of the period.
Above: Mid century Getrude Rougie for Anton Michelsen silver leaf necklace
1855 WORLD EXHIBITION
In 1855 Anton Michelson was the sole Danish silversmith to exhibit in Paris at the The World Exhibition.
After Anton Michelsen's death in 1877 the company was taken over by his son Carl Michelsen. Carl also became court jeweller in 1880, obtaining important Royal Commissions.
The company was acclaimed for their fine enamelling work and from 1910 they were well known for their production of annual Christmas spoons.
Above: Anton Michelsen enamelled Christmas spoons
EARLY 2OTH CENTURY DESIGNERS FOR MICHELSEN
Around the start of the twentieth century the Anton Michelsen company was working with several talented silversmiths and designers including Thorvald Bindesball, Johan Rhode, Svend Hammershoj, Georg Thylstrup, and Harald Slott Moller.
In 1914 Carl Michelsen's son Poul Ulrich Michelsen joined the company as a partner. When his father Carl died in 1921 he continued running the company alone. He collaborated with many notable designers including Svend Hammershoi, Arne Bang, Ib Lunding and Palle Suenson.
Jorgen Michelsen (the son of Poul) was a silversmith and art historian who joined the family business in 1940, becoming a partner in 1943. A Swedish subsidiary of the business was created in Stockholm in 1946.
Around the 1940's the firm was known for making various enamelled items including jewellery. One such design was the "Marguerite" daisy brooch. Other version of the daisy were made in the form of necklaces , bracelets and earrings. These are harder to find today than the brooches .
Above: "Marguerite" enamelled daisy necklace , brooch, earrings and bracelet by Anton Michelsen
MID CENTURY MODERNIST DESIGNERS for MICHELSEN
From around the 1950's the company had their designer's makers marks as well as the Anton Michelsen mark on the rear of the pieces. In the mid century period the company collaborated with various talented designers such as Eigil Jensen, Karen Strand, Knud V Andersen, Nanna and Jorgen Ditzel, Gertrud Engel, Jens Windfield Hansen, and Else Alfelt.
Above: Nanna and Jorgen Ditzel mid century silver necklace and Getrude Engel Rougie leaf brooch for Anton Michelson
The Michelsen firm produced high quality jewellery and silver ware though four generations of the family. In 1968 the company was bought by Royal Copenhagen and its silver output was merged with George Jensen.
ANTON MICHELSEN MAKERS MARKS
The typical signature used by the Anton Michelsen workshop
was “AM”, “M”, “A.Michelsen”, or “Michelsen” below a stylised crown symbol. The pieces could also include stamps for “Denmark” or “Copenhagen”, and three digit
numbers to identify the type of metal such as “925S”. From around the 1950’s onwards designer's marks could also be seen, these could be the full name or initials .
Above: Anton Michelsen - makers marks examples , - Ditzel signature on second photo
Items produced in the Swedish subsidiary of the business had the makers mark "MIC". This can be seen often on Gertrude Engle Rougie's designs of the 1950's.
After 1968 when the firm was bought by Royal Copenhagen
items could have both Royal Copenhagen
and Michelsen marks.
ABOUT KAREN STRAND
Karen Strand was born in Denmark in 1924. She learned the art of goldsmithing working with several firms including Andersen and Enig from 1941 to 1946, Anton Michelsen from 1946 to 1947 , and Just Andersen from 1947 to 1954. She was also the first female student to study at the College of Jewellery and Silversmithing in Copenhagen from 1951 to 1953.
Her talents were recognised early on and in 1953 she was awarded first prize in The Jeweller Competition. After completing her studies she worked mainly in sterling silver and gold producing modernist nature inspired designs.
Above: Karen Strand 1950's Persian Palm brooch and silver modernist pendant
She worked as a designer for several silversmithing shops including Anton Michelsen , Just Andersen and A Dragsted. In the 1950's she produced notable brooches for Anton Michelsen including the Persian Palm brooch.
She went on to work with A Dragsted from 1954 and became artistic director. In 1962 she opened her own workshop in central Copenhagen where she worked for 12 years. She focused mainly on making gold jewellery with some designs in silver with pearls, and raw stones .
Above: Karen Strand 1960's gold and lapis bracelet and silver brooch
Karen Strand was one of several women known for their significant contribution to Danish mid century modernist design.
ABOUT EIGIL JENSEN
Eigil Jensen was born in Aalborg Denmark in 1917. He enjoyed drawing and was employed by a goldsmith in his home town who required an apprentice who could draw. He showed a flair for the work and after finishing his apprenticeship in 1938 he went on to work with the Hans Hansen silver smithy who had already established a good reputation not just in Denmark but internationally.
Above: Eigel Jensen for Anton Michelsen silver brooch and silver boomerang necklace
After 5 years working with Hans Hansen he was employed by Anton Michelsen in Copenhagen. This was the start of a forty year career with Anton Michelsen. After four years he was made the foreman of the goldsmith workshop. At the same time he continued his studies and became a qualified diamond expert and gemmologist. Egil Jensen was a designer for many different products at the Michelsen firm including jewellery and holloware. By 1973 Jensen held the position of Head of Production at Anton Michelsen and continued to do so until his retirement.
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