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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Elkington & Co

Firm specialising in electroplating and bronze founding established in Birmingham by George Richards Elkington (1801–1865) in association with his cousin Henry Elkington (c.1810–1852). In 1840 Elkington patented an electroplating process as a cheaper substitute for solid silver, which revolutionised the silver trade. In 1842, Josiah Mason became a partner and the firm became Elkington, Mason & Co. By the time of G.R. Elkington’s death in 1865, the firm was the leading electroplate company in the world; the firm was thenceforth continued by his five sons (Frederick, James Balleny, Alfred John, Howard and Hyla). Although Elkington’s commercial success was due originally to the production of useful articles, it also made original decorative ware in a variety of styles, as well as reproductions made in the related electrotype process. Public sculptures utilising Elkington’s electrotype process include the statues of Samuel Crompton, 1862, by William Calder Marshall, Bolton, and Oliver Goldsmith, 1862, by J.H. Foley, Dublin, and The Great Exhibition Memorial, unveiled 1863, by Joseph Durham, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington. Among the firm’s productions using conventional bronze casting processes are the statues of Sir Robert Peel, 1855, by Peter Hollins, Birmingham; the Guards’ Crimea Memorial, 1861, by John Bell, Waterloo Place; the equestrian statues of Albert, Prince Consort, 1866, and Queen Victoria, 1869, by Thomas Thornycroft, Lime Street, Liverpool; and, on Holborn Viaduct, 1867–69, Agriculture and Commerce by Henry Bursill, and Winged LionsFine Art and Science, by Farmer and Brindley. In 1963, the firm became part of British Silverware Ltd.

Bibliography: Art Journal: (i) 1 November 1865, p. 328 (obit. of G.R. Elkington); (ii) 1 July 1866, p. 223 (‘Birmingham Arts and Manufactures, and their progress’); T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xxxii, xxxiii, 83, 347, 355, 357, 359, 399, 416, 417, 426; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 352, 353; Derby Mercury, 13 November 1872, p. 7 (‘The home of Electro’); J. Fleming and H. Honour, The Penguin Dictionary of Decorative Arts, London (1977), rev. edn. 1989; Journal of the Society of Arts, 1 December 1865, p. 46 (obit. of G.R. Elkington); R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 136, 449; Mapping Sculpture; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998, pp. xiii, xviii, 103; NPG British Bronze Sculpture Founders; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 115, 207, 208, 283, 304, 436, 453; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, p. 388; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, p. 210.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022