Samuel Pemberton


Samuel Pemberton was a silversmith, toymaker, and jeweller operating in Birmingham in the 18th and 19th centuries. A family business, there were three generations of Samuel Pemberton's during the span of registered sponsor's marks at the Birmingham assay office. The first Samuel Pemberton lived from about 1704 to 1784, the second from 1738 to 1803, and the third from about 1771 to 1836.  Initially registered as Samuel Pemberton, the firm was renamed Pemberton, Son & Mitchell in 1812 and and S Pemberton & Son from 1821.

Registered at Snow Hill, Birmingham, Pemberton was responsible for the production of silver novelties including boxes, corkscrews, caddy spoons, pill boxes, counter boxes, toothpick cases, cheese scoops, nutmeg graters, and vinaigrettes. Other more unusual items to show up at auction by Samuel Pemberton include four cased silver catheters and church wardens pipes.



The silver vinaigrette was first seen around 1770, and was a small box with an internal pierced compartment, designed to contain a scent-soaked sponge. The vinaigrette was worn by both men and women as pendants or around the waist, and was taken out and sniffed to counter unpleasant smells, or for breathing in restorative vapours. 

Samuel Pemberton silver novelty book vinaigrette

Samuel Pemberton produced many exquisite silver and silver gilt vinaigrettes. Examples that sell well at auction include silver gilt vinaigrettes, novelty vinaigrettes, unusual designs and early examples. Rich decoration and unusual forms tend to appeal to collectors including cornocupia shapes and watch case vinaigrettes.


Nutmeg Graters

Nutmeg graters were first used in the mid 17th century. Designed to carry and grate nutmeg, the nutmeg grater was designed to be portable. Diminutive in size and containing a grater, these lavish objects allowed for a special seasoning for food and drink. Within the 18th century the nutmeg grater began to be made in a variety of novelty forms as demand grew and these boxes became more and more popular. 

Nutmeg graters by Samuel Pemberton are amongst the most sought-after by collectors at auction. Rare shapes and engraved detailing, as well as condition factors all play into the perceived value of each grater. Top selling lots over the last few years include round shapes and oval columnar shapes. 


Snuff Boxes

Double snuff boxes by Pemberton sell exceptionally well at auction, with certain examples reaching four figures. Regimental examples with engravings and provenance also sell very well with collectors keen to acquire unique pieces with a compelling story. 


Whether you have an individual Samuel Pemberton piece, or a whole collection of silver, our specialist team can help you to achieve the very best price for your items at auction. Our specialist silver auctions include four Fine & Classic Sales per year. For a free, confidential, and up-to-date auction valuation of your collection, contact our specialist team.

Contact our qualified specialist Liz Bailey for a free, confidential and up-to-date auction valuation.


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Maker's Marks

Samuel Pemberton hallmarks

SP within an oval surround, accompanied by Birmingham's anchor passant mark, lion standard mark and date letter.

Samuel Pemberton silver gilt vinaigrette

Liz Bailey


Department Specialist

+44 (0)1270 623878

Samuel Pemberton oval silver nutmeg grater

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