John Webb Singer (Biographical details)

John Webb Singer (manufacturer/factory; clockmaker/watchmaker; British; Male; 1819 - 1904)

Also known as

Singer, John Webb

Address

Frome

Biography

Manufacturer of church ornaments and art metalwork. Born in Frome, Somerset, Singer was apprenticed to a local watchmaker before setting up on his own in 1851. Following experiments with art metalwork, he gave up watchmaking in 1866 to concentrate on metal casting and, later, forging as well. His firm, J.W. Singer & Sons, exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, in London again in 1862, and at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. A new statue foundry built in 1888 was responsible for many famous statues in London. A man of many interests, Singer collected cacti, wine glasses, bookplates, silver and finger-rings. He gave the silver to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Several of his finger-rings, especially his fine group of posy rings, were acquired by the antiquary John Evans, and were given to the British Museum by the latter's daughter, Joan Evans, in 1961.
In 1926 the art metal side of J.W. Singer & Sons was taken over by the Morris Art Metal Works of London, the new company becoming the Morris Singer Foundry. The firm went bust in May 2010 but was purchased in June 2010 by Nasser Azam, a former banker turned sculptor, who renamed it Zahra Modern Art Foundries (see 'Evening Standard' 20 May 2010 and 16 June 2010).

Bibliography

For the history of J.W. Singer & Sons, see www.fromemuseum.org/singer
For J.W. Singer's collection of posy-rings, see William Jones, 'Finger-Ring Lore', London 1877, pp. 394-7
For his glass see W.E. Wynn Penny, 'Mr. John Webb Singer's collection of English Eighteenth-Century Drinking Glasses, Part I', Burlington Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 7 (Sep. - Oct., 1903), pp. 59-69, and Part II, Vol. 3, No. 8 (Nov., 1903), pp. 144-153