ANTIQUE 19thC VICTORIAN SOLID SILVER SIDEBOARD DISH, ELKINGTON c.1874
Antique 19th Century Victorian rare solid silver wall plaque / sideboard dish, of impressive size and weight, richly part-gilt, the centre plaque with depiction of Mars, surrounded by cartouches bearing personifications of Pax, Abundantia, Bellum and Invidia between rich scrollwork and grotesque decoration. The border shows alternating depictions of commanders (Alexander, Julius Caesar, Cyrus), and the four continents. The original dish was designed by Fraincois Briot, circa 1550-1616 a renowned pewterer and medallist. Beside the famous Temperantia plate the Mars plate by Briot is considered to be one of the most important embossments made from pewter of the Renaissance.
The previously mentioned and perhaps the more commercially known piece designed by Briot and later copied by Elkington is the Venus Rosewater Dish, awarded in the Ladies' Singles at the Wimbledon tennis championships and was first presented to the Champion in 1886. Otherwise known as the 'Temperantia' Basin is one of the highlights of the V&A's pewter collection.
Hallmarked English silver (925 standard), Birmingham, year 1874 (z), Maker's mark F.E (Frederick Elkington, Elkington & Co). The firm, founded in 1815, became very popular for pioneering the electroplating and gilding techniques. It was established in Birmingham by George Richards Elkington's uncle. George Richards took over the business after his uncle's death together with his cousin Henry Elkington. A third partner, Josiah Mason who manufactured pens joined the firm from 1842 to 1861, when he left. After George Richards death in 1865 his sons successfully managed the business, which operated independently as Elkington & Co. until 1963. In 1830s Elkington & Co. were awarded the first patents for mastering the electroplating technique which consists in applying a thin coat of silver to a different metal using electricity. The process was then brought to perfection in 1840, thanks to the recent chemical discoveries of John Wright, a Birmingham surgeon. The Elkingtons quickly understood the potential of the new technology and acquired rights and patents of this improvement.
The firm produced a great number of electrotypes, perfect electroplated reproductions of metal objects. Henry Cole, first director of the South Kensington Museum (today Victoria & Albert Museum) grasped the educational potential of the new technique, and agreed with Elkington to take moulds of historic objects in museums in England and around the world. By 1920 the V&A held about 1000 electrotypes, later sold to the public and other museums.
However the production of the firm was very diversified. Electroplated tablewares became extremely popular in the Victorian market and the company kept growing, counting 1000 employees in 1880. They received important commissions and supplied tableware and cutlery for the Titanic and the Royal Yacht Britannia's banqueting room. For the fine quality, accuracy artistic design typical of their production the company was awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria and held it for six consecutive reigns.
In Great Condition - No Damage.