The Revival of the Enamel Box
The revival of this lost art was begun in the late 1960's when Susan Benjamin, owner and founder of Halcyon Days, thought that this
18th century art form could be revived. She had the knowledge and design capability, however she required someone with the
technical knowledge and ability to recreate this art form. She found a company in Bilston that had been enamelling on copper, and
with her design and marketing capabilities, teamed up with the Marshall family who had the expertise in enamelling. The Marshalls
formed a company, Bilston & Battersea Enamels, to manufacture Halcyon Days designs by Susan Benjamin.
After early experimentation, the range of boxes was officially launched in 1970. As no one had attempted this process in modern day,
there were constant changes that can be evidenced by the various types of mounts used through the years and the quality of the
painting. One can see the steady improvement as the years progressed. In the early days, there were numerous limited edition boxes
to commemorate events, people and places. These have become actively sought after by the collector.
A dated Christmas box series was begun in 1971 limited to an edition of the number of days in that year (365 or 366). These small
ovals were only sold in England and were such a success, that in 1973, Mrs. Benjamin decided to issue a round dated Christmas box
which would only be produced in the relevant year. The oval series was ended in 1982, but the round open edition series continues to
this day and it is the most popular of all the boxes. Collectors are constantly seeking the older editions and the market is active.
In addition to making the enamels for their own shop and through selected retailers, Halcyon Days also were commissioned to create
special editions by such retailers as Horchow Collection, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Gucci, Tiffany's, Gumps, the Smithsonian, and
Cameron & Smith not only deal in the retired issues of Halcyon Days including their special commissions, but we also sell the
entire current range of boxes. With over 1600 different designs in stock at any time, we have the world's largest inventory of enamels
from various manufacturers.
After the successful launch of Halcyon Days, John Aris formed a company called Crummles to produce enamel boxes. Not as
refined as the Halcyon boxes, he concentrated his themes on storybook characters that included the works of Beatrix Potter, Winnie-
the-Pooh, Paddington Bear, Brambley Hedge, Ronald Briggs' The Snowman, Alice in Wonderland (based on the Tennile drawings)
and Tasha Tudor. All of these boxes have been retired. Cameron & Smith makes a market in them and our inventory is constantly
Following Crummles, Staffordshire Enamels appeared on the scene and from their early boxes, have increasingly improved their
craftsmanship. They acquired Marshall Enamels and followed that with the acquistion of Crummles.