James Usher (1845-)was an extremely talented jeweller, but is best remembered for his passion for collecting works of art and the Usher Gallery in Lincoln which was named after him and houses his collection.
James Usher, or James Ward Usher as he was also known, was born on 1st January 1845 in Lincoln. He was the eldest son of the jeweller and watchmaker James Usher.
From a very early age, James Usher had a passion for collecting. Over a period of around 30 years, he built up his collection - ceramics, watches, clocks, coins, silver and miniatures as well as paintings.
James Usher himself was a talented artist and would spend many hours painting pictures of all his collections for use as an illustrated inventory.
During his lifetime much of this collection was displayed in the window of the family shop on Lincoln High Street. Usher was a shrewd businessman and when he took over the running of the shop from his father, the business went from strength to strength.
His reputation as a jeweller grew, and grew still further when acquired the sole rights to use the Lincoln Imp in his work. Pins, spoons and numerous other articles with the Imp on were extremely popular.
Usher received many letters requesting items featuring the Lincoln Imp. Many of these arrived at his shop despite being addressed simply to 'The man who makes Lincoln Imp jewellery' and such like. Even the Prince of Wales was spotted wearing a pin with the Imp on which had been given to him by Usher himself.
Usher was a solitary man and never married. Just two days before his death, he made out a will in which he bequeathed the whole of his collection to the City of Lincoln on the understanding that it would form the basis for a museum and art gallery that would bear his name.
He also left almost £60,000 towards the cost of the building. Land was purchased and the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield was commissioned to design the building that was to house the Usher collection.
The Usher Gallery, on Lindum Hill, was officially opened on the 25th May 1927 by the Prince of Wales.
Since its merger with the City and County Museum, The Usher Gallery is now known as The Collection.