Peter Orr & Sons
(1849 - 1944 ca.)
Peter Orr and his brother Alexander, originary from Scotland arrived in Madras, India in 1843. Soon after their arrival they started working for the silversmith firm Gordon & Co as watchmakers. After Gordon’s retirement in 1849 the two brothers took over the business and turned it into the largest and best appointed silversmith company in India.
In 1876 Peter and Alexander got appointed Jewellers and Silversmith to the Prince of Wales.
In 1879 Peter Orr commissioned a very ambitious building to the architect Robert Chisholm for their shop. The premises were inaugurated by Prince George, Duke of York, who later became King George V, and Princess Mary, who later became Queen Mary.
The company produced silverware and jewellery in the so-called Swami style. Swami means deity in the local Tamil language and in fact this style, typical of the city of Madras and Southern India, is characterised by the use of decorative figures of Hindu gods and sacred scenes. Thanks to the firm Swami silver became extremely popular not just in India but also in Europe, where the brand’s artworks were sought after by royalties and aristocracy.
By 1903 according to the records their workshop counted over 600 artisans.
The firm suffered the consequences of the Second World War and was forced to stop the production of silverware and jewellery, going back to watchmaking.
Nowadays, some of the company’s finest artworks are exhibited in the most popular international museums such as the Victoria and Albert museum.