SPOTLIGHT: ELKINGTON SILVER TEA SERVICE
DATE: Monday 26 April | 6pm
LOCATION: Timed Online
Theodore Bruce is excited to offer, a Sterling Silver Tea Service by Elkington & Co, marked Frederick Elkington, London, 1889 (Lot 518) in our forthcoming Jewels, Silver & Timepieces Timed Online Auction on Monday 26 April at 6pm
This magnificent Victorian Tea Service by the renowned British silversmithing firm of Elkington & Co was designed by its chief artist Auguste-Adolphe Willms (1827-1899). Willms was one of a number of French designers who worked for the firm during the 19th century, & had previously been employed in Paris by such makers as Jean-Valentin Morel, Christofle & Froment-Meurice. He joined Elkington’s design team in 1855; four years later he was heading the studio & remained in that position until his death in 1899.
The firm, founded c.1836 by George Richards Elkington (1801-1865), in Birmingham, first made its name as the largest British electroplating silver manufacturer & in addition produced a large variety of pure silver pieces, from table silver & domestic hollowware to large presentation pieces in conjunction with bronzes & enamels.
In 1842 Josiah Mason, a wealthy pen manufacturer was taken into partnership & the firm became Elkington, Mason & Co. until 1861. After G.R.Elkington died in 1865, the business was entrusted to his four sons; Frederick, James, Alfred, & Howard. The firm was renamed Elkington & Co. & operated as such from 1861-1963. Frederick obtained his Freedom of the Goldsmiths Co. in 1885, becoming a Liveryman in 1890. It appears he was at the forefront of the firm with some of the most interesting pieces bearing his stamp, the Tea Service being one of those.
Originally inspired by Tiffany’s experiments in textured silver and base metals decoration to imitate Japanese metalwork, Elkington’s were one of the first manufacturers to produce silver in a Japanese style & from the 1860’s, under the guidance of Willms added a fine range of cloisonné & champlevé enamels to their line. The engraved Japanese chrysanthemum emblem on the tea service is of particular significance, reflecting the firm’s interest in the Far East.
Some of the most interesting & now sought after Elkington silver was produced during Frederick Elkington’s time which is reflected prices achieved at auction in recent times.