Most sources quote the company manufactured jewellery from the sixties to the seventies. However this is untrue. Exquisite jewellery was produced by the company called W A P Watson Ltd. here is the companies time line:
1909 to 1914 – Walter Archibald Parker Watson had a small factory in Hockley Hill, Birmingham manufacturing chains and then gilt jewellery.
1914 W A P Watson sold his company to Augustus Harry Power and Clarence Oswald Flint. They kept the name and subsequently became W A P Watson LTD
1914 to 1934 Following the First World War, Messrs Power and Flint became skilled in producing costume jewellery. The original number of employees was 6 and it was during this time the range of jewellery was named Exquisite.
1934 The company with its 125 employees moved to Hampton Street in the Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. They also had premises in Mary Street. Now not only producing jewellery but also crested souvenirs.
1937 to 1954 W A P Watson ceased manufacturing jewellery during the Second World War but concentrated on helping the war effort. Following the war, Exquisite jewellery and the souvenirs production continued. But with increased demand and the confined space available in the Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the Powers looked for larger premises. Augustus son’s Wallis and Jack had now become the managing directors
1954 to 1977 The company moved in 1954 to Vulcan Road Solihull. Expanded and introduced the Mirella trade name of gold plated picture frames, mirrors, pens and small pill boxes. The name Mirella came from one of their employees. Crystal was introduced into their product manufacturing. At their peak the company produced 20,000 pieces of jewellery under the Exquisite name. Famous for their Birthday and Scottish range – beautifully hand enameled brooches, necklaces and earrings.
1977 The Exquisite Jewellery range was stopped due to the competition of the high import of cheaper jewellery from the East. However the crested souvenir range was expanding as more people were able to take holidays in the UK and abroad. Spoons, bells, letter openers, thimbles were available in all the tourist gift shops across the UK
1977 to 1989 The company had to reduce employees as they struggled to survive the recession and competition. They produced new ranges of Collector’ Keepsakes – thimbles, letter openers and bells. Also leather goods under the name of Manor Leather craft.
1989 to 2000 The Crystal Flame range of silver and gilt animals with a crystal became popular and eventually developed into the Tudor Mint range. The popular Myths and Magic range of medieval figures and characters took off and still is very collectible today
2000 onward The Solihull factory closed in the early 2000’s as the company moved to the USA to expand the Tudor Mint range. In 2007 the company sold this to the Xystos group but still retains a holding company of The Watson Group Limited in Shirley Solihull.
W A P Watson left a large amount of collectible and beautiful jewellery. Many ranges are available and matching pieces.
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Susan C Weaver