Under license from the East Indian Company, Robert Hamilton, a British national, opened his Jewellery and Silversmithing shop, named Hamilton & Co, at 5 Tank Square in 1808. Later, as a better option, he moved his shop to 7 Court House Street in 1811, and remained there until 1973, when it finally closed. Hamilton & Co was the first British silversmith to set up a shop on the Old Court House Street. The pieces they produced in Calcutta, mainly for the use of the British civilians, were of polished silver with smooth lines and minimal decoration.
As he was badly in need of money to expand his thriving business, Robert Hamilton opted for two partners in 1811, Henry and James Glazbrook. During the subsequent years the business had many more partners and they opened branches in Bombay, Delhi and Simla.
However, Robert Hamilton lost his interest in business in 1817, and dedicated the latter part of his life to collect paintings, which included the works of the great masters, like Rubens, Velazquez and Holbein.
But Hamilton & Co thrived with time. With a huge space dedicated to jewellery, ceramics and artifacts, the magnificent store had a big workshop with the country’s best artisans working in its basement. Hamilton & Co not only exported their wares, but was also the official silversmith to the British government. It is said that, no European royalty would leave India without shopping from Hamilton & Co. Understandably so, because they were considered no less than Tiffany’s or Cartier.
Hamilton & Co survived the aftershock of India’s independence from the British rule in 1947. But the political turbulence during the 1970s, made them unsettled and unsure. They decided to shut their doors in 1973, and lost forever in the process.