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


  • Place of origin:

    Hammersmith and Fulham (made)

  • Date:

    1894 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper, with a stamped design

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 4

Object Type
This circular copper tray with its radiating ribs was made with a stamping press. The ribs are both decorative and functional, providing the circular sheet with extra strength to avoid buckling. The impression of flat, overlapping leaves has led to the tray being referred to as the 'lily pad'.

William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924) was educated at Eton and Oxford and trained in the office of the architect, Basil Champneys. Through his friendship with Edward Burne Jones, he was introduced to William Morris who encouraged him to set up his own metal workshop in 1880. In 1882, he established a foundry in Hammersmith and in about 1887, a shop in Bond Street. Benson was a founder member of the Art Workers' Guild, established in 1884. Following the death of William Morris in 1896, he became Managing Director of Morris & Co. (for whom he also designed furniture and wallpaper). Benson's own firm prospered but during the First World War, the factory was entirely converted to producing material for the war effort, manufacturing amongst other instruments, altimeters for the Sopwith Camel. By the cessation of hostilities in 1918, Benson had become rather discouraged and he closed the factory upon his retirement in 1920. He died in 1924.

Design & Designing
Benson was admired for the simplicity and clarity of his designs which made little use of extraneous ornament. He also designed for machine production, openly admiring and exploiting its potential.

Place of Origin

Hammersmith and Fulham (made)


1894 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Copper, with a stamped design

Marks and inscriptions

Stamped on the back: the mark of W.A.S. Benson and the design registration no. 'Rd.No.227388'


Depth: 3.2 cm, Diameter: 48.5 cm

Object history note

Designed by W.A.S. Benson (born in London, 1854, died in Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, 1924) and made at his factory in Hammersmith, London

Labels and date

British Galleries:
W.A.S. Benson was a commercial designer and manufacturer working within the Arts and Crafts style. He produced a wide range of metalwork which he sold from his London shop. The radiating design used for this tray would have helped to strengthen the structure and avoid buckling. It is based on the geometric designs of early Islamic copper and brass. [27/03/2003]




Metalwork Collection

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