Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) of Birmingham, entered into partnership with his father, a toy and buckle maker, in 1749, taking over the business ten years later upon his father's death. He soon began to make his mark as an extraordinary businessman. His idea was not to specialise in one area, as was the custom, but to expand his business into a manufactory, housing design workshops, mills and staff accommodation. Increasing output, good design and quality while keeping prices low, he was one of the first to curtail child labour and introduce a kind of social and medical security plan for his craftsmen. His inventiveness ensured he was on the cutting edge of industry and his manufactory was the first outside Sheffield to produce Sheffield plate. His first interest was always practical application of ingenious invention, as seen most dramatically in his partnership with James Watt in producing the steam engine. The present candlesticks provide a more domestic example of that practical inventiveness coupled with a pleasing design. They were probably made to a design by James Wyatt, who took over as principal designer at Boulton's Soho Manufactory after the death of Robert Adam.