The Hive JQ

The Hive is a community hub for Birmingham in an historic building, with an award-winning organic café and bakery, craft workshops, exhibitions and event spaces.

Adie & Lovekin were renowned for their unique silver items, ranging from novelty pieces such as animal-shaped pin cushions, to babies’ rattles, butter knives, and brooches. The pin cushions are particularly well-known, and have become the piece synonymous with the company. They capitalised on creating pin cushions in the shape of unusual, foreign animals like camels and ostriches, which appealed to an audience to whom foreign travel was not readily available. The concept of a novelty pin cushion also proved very popular - it was useful and fun, but the elaborate craftsmanship and luxurious materials, like silver, velvet, and mother of pearl, made for an extravagant, must-have item.

      

The company was founded in 1866 by James Adie and Alfred Lovekin, and was initially registered at 157 Hockley Hill. Although their original premises no longer exists, the space was advertised in the Birmingham Journal as having a ‘china closet’, a ‘good large cellar’, an ‘extensive store room with showroom’, and ‘extensive shopping’.

James Adie was born in 1840, and is first recorded as a silversmith in 1861. In 1867, he married Emily Woodhouse; the 1871 census tells us that James and Emily lived on Albert Road in Handsworth. Interestingly, he lived next door to his business partner Alfred Lovekin and his wife Lucy. On the same census, Alfred is listed as a ‘Master Silversmith’. We also learn from the census that Adie had retired by 1901, and died in 1913. Interestingly, James and Emily’s son, Percy (1877- 1949 ) and his wife, were passengers on the ‘Empress of Ireland’ which left Quebec on the 28th May 1914 bound for Liverpool. Approximately 15 minutes after the ship embarked on its voyage, it collided with another ship and sank rapidly - fortunately they were among the survivors.

Alfred Lovekin was born in 1844 in Birmingham to Joseph Lovekin, a boat builder, and Elizabeth Lovekin. In 1868, Alfred married Lucy Susan Tickell. There is little information about Alfred’s life, although his profession is consistently reported as ‘silversmith’. He died in 1911.

The company was involved in a number of legal skirmishes, from stolen silver to copied designs. In 1871, a metal worker called John Walton was accused of stealing Adie & Lovekin’s silver that had been handed to the company to melt - it was revealed that Walton was hiding silver behind a loose brick in the furnace. Of Adie & Lovekin’s 11 ounces, Walton was found to have stolen 4 ounces, and was sentenced to three months imprisonment and hard labour.
In November of the same year, an Adie & Lovekin patented design (specifically a ‘Ribbon Pattern Border’) was copied by silversmith James Manton - he was ordered to pay a fine of £5.

In 1880, the tables turned when James Adie found himself facing a fine for assault. On 24 July, the Birmingham Daily Post reported Adie had committed ‘a most unwarrantable and brutal assault’ upon Hymen Levetus, who happened to be a close rival in the jewellery trade. Adie was ordered to pay £10 10s to the court.

By 1884, Adie & Lovekin had moved to 43 Vittoria Street. However in the same year, the company was also registered at 1 Regent Place, so it is likely that the firm was operating from both addresses for a while.

In James Adie’s 1913 obituary in the Walsall Advertiser, it notes Adie as ‘formerly of the firm of Adie and Lovekin, silversmiths’. This suggests that he was no longer connected to the company. The last record of Adie & Lovekin as a registered business was in 1925 at Regent Place.

(Thank you to Suzanne Hayes for the research)