Entrance to the Works [The Prince of Wales’s Arrival at Elkington’s)

Entrance to the Works [The Prince of Wales’s Arrival at Elkington’s). Source: The Graphic 10 (7 November 1874): 449. Click on image to enlarge it.

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Commentary from The Graphic

Messrs. Elkington's Electro and Silver plate Works, also visited by the Royal party, are situated in Newhall Street, Birmingham. These extensive premises are approached by an elaborately decorated staircase, where at intervals are placed bronze statues, copies or replicas of those in the House of Lords. The show-rooms are large and commodious, and, like the staircase, are highly decorated. Works of art are here everywhere displayed—statues, trophies, vases, &c., in gold, silver, bronze, and electro-plate—the combined effect of which on entering is extremely brilliant and dazzling.

Proceeding from thence through the studios, where artists are engaged at their various compartments of designing and modelling, we at length reach the extensive and well-adapted workshops, which, being furnished with most approved and unique machinery, are extremely interesting. The Big Stamp—worked by steam, and an adaptation of the Nasmyth steam-hammer—in three blows executes as much work as it formerly took a workman a whole day to do; yet, although it can strike a blow equal to twenty tons, the force can be so regulated that the shell of a nut can be cracked with it without injuring the kernel within. To the small stamp steam is not applied to help the workman; these stamps are used for smaller work, such as handles, &c.

Passing from the stamps the separate members are then subjected to a hot soldering blast of gas, as seen in our illustration. The plating-rooms, which occupy a very important position in the works, are remarkably interesting; in one of these rooms is a huge galvanic battery, powerful enough to destroy a regiment of soldiers at one shock. The enamelling—a comparatively new process, by the way—is borrowed from the Japanese, but greatly developed by French artists, the work executed being exceedingly beautiful. The vase, or whatever it may be, is first fashioned on copper. The design is then worked in it in much the same way as in stained glass, each colour having its separate compartment; it is then fired, and the process is repeated till the work is finished. [442]

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“Buildings and Industries of Birmingham. Electro and Silver Plating Sketched at the Works of Messrs. Elkington and Co., Visited by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. The Graphic 10 (28 November 1874): 448. Hathi Trust online version of a copy in the New York Public Library. Web. 4 July 2021.

Last modified 5 July 2021