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Charles Ormrod

MA work

The Die-stamping of Metalware in Eighteenth Century England

My MA dissertation was a study of the role of die-stamping in the design, production and distribution of ornamental metalware in England in the eighteenth century.  Development of the high pressure drop stamping process, an English innovation of the mid-eighteenth century, which allowed larger items of tableware and other goods to be made by stamping, was examined in particular detail.

Though later associated with mass production and minimal cost, I found that the initial development of die-stamping was primarily driven by the pursuit of high quality in volume production of luxury or semi-luxury goods.  In this context, consistent high quality over a large production run, almost impossible to maintain with hand craft methods, was more critical than maximum volume or cost saving. 

My dissertation indicated some of the ways in which die-stamping has enabled high design, from a late eighteenth century silver candlestick to the Jaguar E-type car bonnet, allowing innovations in shape and ornamentation that would have been difficult or impossible to achieve by hand craft methods alone.  


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2016

  • I'm particularly interested in the interaction between design and the introduction of volume production methods and imitative materials in the early modern manufacture of semi-luxury goods.  

    Design and production could interact in ways that made objects created with partly-mechanised methods or imitation materials more desirable than hand crafted objects of high intrinsic value.  Methods which imitated hand craft such as transfer printing on ceramics to emulate hand-painted decoration, or the stamping of thin sheets of malleable metal into steel dies (die-stamping) to give the appearance of decorative hand chasing.  Materials such as foil-backed faceted glass to imitate the appearance of precious gemstones, or laminated sheets of silver and copper (Sheffield plate) to imitate the appearance of solid silver.   

  • Degrees

  • BA Intellectual History, University of Sussex, 1977; Postgraduate Certificate in Education, University of Oxford, 1979; Graduate Certificate in the History of Art and Architecture, Birkbeck College, 2011
  • Experience

  • Extended career in IT consultancy, including time as a senior management consultant with EY and with Deloitte. Now working part-time as a consultant for a leading UK charity, while exploring ways of continuing my research.