Liverpool History Society Questions

A selection of Liverpool history questions submitted to the Liverpool History Society

>Joseph Mayer: Researching an old piece of gold jewellery


Dear Liverpool History Society,
I am researching an old piece of gold jewellery that has been passed down through my family for more than a century.   It is London, Hallmarked 1864 and the makers initial is JTM,  however the fitted case is has always been in has the Liverpool Jeweller, Jos Mayer.  I would be grateful for any information on the company you can provide.
Sam Leeson
Toronto Canada

Pocket watch by Joseph Mayer

Statue of Joseph Mayer in St Georges Hall, Liverpool

18/11/2009 - Posted by | Joseph Mayer: Researching an old piece of gold jewellery


  1. Hello Sam,

    Joseph Mayer,(1803-1886) Silversmith and Antiquities Collector was was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. He moved to Liverpool when he was twenty. At first he was apprenticed to his brother-in-law, Joseph Wordley, a jeweller but in 1844-5 Mayer set up his own jewellery and silversmith business. It was probably this enterprise that provided him with sufficient funds to finance his passion for collecting.

    Interest in antiquities

    Mayer’s interest in antiquities began at an early age and his collection covered a wide range of subjects including Wedgwood pottery, Egyptian and Roman artefacts, English paintings and medieval art. Unlike William Roscoe who never left England, Mayer travelled abroad regularly. Primarily he travelled on business to observe trends but each of his trips provided the opportunity for him to study and purchase ancient and medieval art.

    In 1852 Mayer opened a museum in Colquitt Street, using works he himself had collected as the exhibits. He had become captivated by the displays at the British Museum and wished his fellow-citizens of Liverpool to have the same opportunity to view the wonders of the past. As well as setting up the museum Mayer was a founder member of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, established in 1848, and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1867 Mayer gave his collection to the Liverpool Museum (now World Museum Liverpool). The medieval manuscripts, ivories and enamels which made up part of this gift are now in the care of the Walker Art Gallery.

    If you ever visit Liverpool, pop into the Walker Art Gallery in William Brown Street, where you can see a marble plaque of Joseph Mayer`s portrait and if my memory serves me correctly there is one above it depricting his father.


    Rob Ainsworth

    Programme Secretary & Web Administrator
    Liverpool History Society
    Web Site:

    Comment by Liverpool History | 18/11/2009 | Reply

  2. Hello Sam,
    searching my photo archive I found a picture of a atatue of Joseph Mayer that is in St Georges Hall, Lime Street, Liverpool.


    Rob Ainsworth

    Programme Secretary & Web Administrator
    Liverpool History Society
    Web Site:

    Comment by Liverpool History | 18/11/2009 | Reply

  3. I have a pocketwatch (been in my family for years and years, noted on the dial/face to be made by Litherland whiteside & Co, Liverpool. It is gold, two cased. It has smaller seconds dial also. It is in beautiful shape, but glass cdial over may not be original. Inside back case are at least 7 (old and fragile) claim tickets dating from 1912 back to 1835. The cases are stmped and hand engraved in many places inside.
    Do you think that this is a valuable piece?

    Comment by Anonymous | 20/01/2010 | Reply

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