Digby Scott and Benjamin Smith II first entered their mark in partnership on 4 October 1802 at Limekiln Lane, Greenwich. There is no record of Scott's apprenticeship or freedom but it is thought he may have worked with or at least known Benjamin Smith in Birmingham; Smith's third son, born in 1797 in Birmingham, was called Digby. Benjamin Smith II, born in 1764 in Birmingham, was introduced to Matthew Boulton in 1790 and two years later they were in partnership; a third partner, John Lander, jeweler, was added in 1794 but by 1801 disagreement had set in and by February 1801 Smith was in Greenwich, where he married his second wife, Mary Shiers. In the following year his partnership with Digby Scott was established. The partnership manufactured for Rundell Bridge, as did Paul Storr; they produced some of the most important and accomplished silver of the early nineteenth century.
The form of this inkstand is derived from a Royal presentation piece commissioned by George III, by Wakelin and Taylor, 1790 (see Michael Clayton, The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America, 1984, p.215 fig.312). The pots in that example are very similar, vase-shaped with acanthus borders and pinecone finials, though the tray is oblong, on four lion's paw feet, and additionally has two loop serpent handles. Nevertheless the influence is very clear and an 1803 example by Digby Scott and Benjamin Smith may be seen (Vanessa Brett, The Sotheby's Directory of Silver, 1986, p.248 fig.1115) which closely follows the form of the Wakelin and Taylor inkstand, including the lion's paw feet and the loop handles as well as the distinctive floral garlands below. Both this and the original example have Royal presentation inscriptions.
A further Digby Scott and Benjamin Smith example, of 1804, was sold Christie's New York, 17 October 1996, lot 283, with the slight alteration of bifurcated reeded serpent handles; and another by Benjamin Smith, 1807 (the year Benjamin Smith first entered his mark alone), with elongated octagonal form tray and slightly differing borders and handles, was sold Christie's New York, 15 April 1997, lot 284.