Between 1885 and 1905 Frank Hyams ran a watchmaking and jewellery business in Princess Street, Dunedin. When his first wife Elle Hallenstein died in 1895, he married her London-based cousin Hilda in 1897 and he moved to London in 1898. The Hallensteins founded a clothing, retail and manufacturing empire in Otago with 34 stores throughout New Zealand by 1900. In New Zealand in 1901 he had made the gift from the people of New Zealand to the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York to commemorate their visit: a Maori war canoe with eight men rowing with the chief standing, with a taiaha supported on four similar square greenstone pillars topped with Kiwi birds, at a cost of £630, described as The most beautiful thing ever made in New Zealand.

Hyams opened on the first floor of 167 New Bond Street in late 1898, then moved to a prestigious shop at 128 New Bond Street on the corner of Grosvenor Street where he promoted Greenstone as: identified with the Maori Race from the earliest knowledge we have of it. And while Greenstone lacks the brilliancy and transparency of the Emerald and other stones of the “Gem” tribe, the finer quality of the Stone is capable of receiving a high polish which brings out its latent beauty and renders it a most fitting stone for the manufacture of personal ornaments or the more useful table requisites.

Hyams counted as a client Leopold de Rothschild, who won the 1904 Derby with his horse St Amant with an ancient two-inch New Zealand greenstone hei tiki in his pocket. Rothschild told the King that it was sent to him with a nice letter by an anonymous correspondent imploring him to wear the amulet during the race as a pledge of victory. That charm produced a boom in the sales of greenstone products around the world. It could be argued that these candlesticks next to the royal presentation canoe are among the finest greenstone items made by his now international firm.

The London hallmarks for Frank Hyams, without the date letter

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