Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Chafing dish
  • Chafing dish
    Benson, William Arthur Smith, born 1854 - died 1924
  • Enlarge image

Chafing dish

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Benson, William Arthur Smith, born 1854 - died 1924 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Raised copper and cast brass, the liner originally electroplated with silver

  • Museum number:

    M.936 to B-1983

  • Gallery location:

    Metalware, Room 116, The Belinda Gentle Gallery, case 2 []

The purpose of a chafing dish is to keep food warm. W.A.S. Benson's strikingly original and simple designs exploited the combination of copper and brass. Copper is easily worked and retains its strength. It also conducts heat. Brass handles allow this dish to be carried without risk of burnt fingers. An electroplated liner inside protects the food from being contaminated by the copper.

Benson was a friend of William Morris, who nicknamed him 'Mr Brass Benson' and encouraged him to set up a metal-working business. Benson had a factory in Hammersmith and a showroom in London’s stylish West End. His designs revived the use of copper, and made it a fashionable material for the wealthy classes to own. Unlike some arts and crafts contemporaries Benson used machines, although his style was in keeping with the movement. He designed for Morris & Co. and took over the firm when Morris died.. He was also a member of the Art Workers Guild and a founder of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888. In 1914, Benson's factory was used to manufacture munitions for the First World War. Having no heirs, Benson decided to close down the works in 1920.

Physical description

Chafing dish, raised copper, with cast brass handles and electroplated liner. The dish rests on a small, circular base with swelling sides, "S" shaped in cross section rising to a double stepped rim. The cover is in the form of a straight sided cone turning inwards at the rim. The apex is surmounted by a flanged, cast brass finial.

The handles, attached to the rim of the base by screws, have splayed sides, knuckle joints and spacers which swell in cross section, in the middle. The brass inner liner is a shallow dish with a wide flat base, curved sides and an everted rim. Two small baluster shaped projections with knurled rims are screwed to the inner side of the rim, directly opposite each other to facilitate removal of the liner. The liner was originally electroplated and traces of the original silvering are still apparent.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1900 (made)


Benson, William Arthur Smith, born 1854 - died 1924 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Raised copper and cast brass, the liner originally electroplated with silver

Marks and inscriptions

Maker's mark for W.A.S. Benson


Height: 16 cm, Width: 30.5 cm

Object history note

Illustrated in the Benson catalogue for 1899-1900, plate 28, Tableware No.671 and described as follows:
Entree Dish with silvered inner dish, as shewn . £2.5s.0d.
Best Electroplate £3.3s0d.

Purchased from Sotheby's, New Bond Street, 30/09/1983 for £66.90

Descriptive line

Copper with brass fittings, the inner liner originally silvered, London ca.1900, mark of W.A.S. Benson.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Shirley Bury, Country Life, March 18, 1965 "The Craftsman who used the Machine"


Copper; Brass; Silver


Spinning; Casting; Electroplating


Metalwork; Eating; Tableware & cutlery


Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.