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History of work benches


After a recent lecture I was asked if I knew when the cut-out,
rounded recesses in jeweller’s benches first appeared. Been trying to

Can find only straight-edge benches in representations up to early
17th century and the first cut-out I’ve seen is in Diderot’s
encyclopedia of the mid 18th century. Anyone know of earlier cut-out


I’ve put a low-res representation of the Diderot example on my
’Jewellery History’ Facebook page if it is of interest.

Jack Ogden

try looking it up in the worshipful company of goldsmith’s online
reference- but I know i’ve seen antique french jeweller’s and
watchmaker’s benches from the 15th c. if not earlier-I remember an
article a few years ago on the exact subject- maybe in metalsmith
magazine. google it…

Hi Jack,

I’ve enjoyed several of your books.

I wish I could give you something definitive, but now that I dig
through my references, I can’t find anything solid (in print)
earlier than you’ve already found.

My one suggestion is to try the city museum in Basel. I was there
about 20 years ago, and they had what I (dimly) recall was tagged as
a 16-17th century jeweler’s workshop put back together as a display,
and it had the typical four place workbench with the crescent
cutouts. It was down in the basement, but that’s as much of a lead
as I can give you.

Hope that’s of some use.

Brian Meek.