Archibald Knox Tudric muffin dish
By Sherri Hall-Wilcox
The piece pictured above is a pewter muffin dish (valued, designed by Archibald Knox (British, 1864-1933) for Liberty & Co., circa 1901-05 as part of its “Tudric” line. Like most pieces made during this period, it is in the Art Nouveau style. Knox was born in Cronkbourne Village, Tromode, Isle of Man, on April 9th, 1864.
Knox took a winding path to end up as a designer whose pieces are now sought by collectors.
Knox’s early education took place at Douglas Grammar School and Douglas School of Art between 1878 and 1883. It appears it was here that his first interest in Celtic design took root, and later became his signature design form. Knox taught at the school from 1884-1888. In 1897, Knox moved on to become a teacher at the Redhill School of Art, whose headmaster, A.J. Collister, was a close friend. In 1899 Knox would follow Collister to the Kingston School of Art and later to the Wimbledon Art School in 1906.
It was during this period during the turn of the 19th century that he became involved with the studios of Christopher Dresser, famous for silverware, ceramics and glass and Liberty & Co. of London. Liberty & Co. was one of the leading producers of Art Nouveau decorative arts items, and it while he was here when Knox began designing pieces for which he is most famous: creating items for their Cymric line of silver (1899) and their “Tudric” line of pewter (1902). It is unknown just how many pieces he designed for Liberty, as much of the company’s records were destroyed by fire during World War II.
In 1912 Knox left Britain, seeking employment in the United States, returning to the Isle of Man in 1913, just before the outbreak of World War One. During the war (1914-1918), he worked as a censor in an alien detention camp on the Isle of Man, returning to teaching after the war at a number of schools on the island. He died from sudden heart failure on Feb. 22, 1933 and was buried in Braddan Cemetery.