The establishment of Messrs. Elkington, Mason and Co. is perhaps the most interesting, as a manufactory, in the Midland Counties, combining, as it does. many modern scientific inventions of great value and importance, employing about one thousand workpeople of skilful acquirements, and possessing one of the most extensive, best arranged, and elegant show-rooms in the world. In the brief space at disposal here, it is only possible to give a cursory glance of the rise and progress of this establishment, which in addition to its large staff in Birmingham, has depots in London, 22, Regent Street, and 45, Moorgate Street; Liverpool, 25, Church Street, and Dublin, College Green, where show-rooms are also attached. The first successful process of coating metals with a solution of gold was discovered by Messrs. Elkington in 1836, and patented by them, both in England and France. The patent was most severely contested in France, having been tried in a variety of forms before all the courts of law in succession, but the question was finally decided in favour of the patentees. The “SocietÃ© d’Encouragement” of arts and manufactures awarded their gold medal for this invention at an early period of the patent. Messrs. Elkington patented in 1840 the application of alkaline substances for the deposition of gold and silver in connection with an electric current, and without this change in the nature of the solutions no satisfactory deposit has, we believe, been yet obtained of either gold or silver. About the same time they also patented the same invention in France, and the “ Academic de Sciences” awarded the Monthyon prize of 12,000 francs conjointly between Messrs. Elkington and M. de Ruolz ; the latter gentleman having extended the application of the same kind of solutions to other metals, such as platinum, nickel, cobalt, 81c. At the various exhibitions which have been held from time to time, this house has been eminently successful, taking the highest award given in every case–the “ Council Medal” of “ Hyde Park Exhibition, 1851," Gold Medals of New York and Dublin, and the gold “Grand Medal of Honour” of Paris, 1855, till at the last great Exhibition of 1862, their merit was acknowledged as beyond the province of Medals, Mr. Frederick Elkington being appointed a Juror. The Commissioners having, however, decided to present Medals to Artists who had distinguished themselves, five medals only were awarded, two of which fell to the lot of artists in Messrs. Elkington’s employ, with numerous others of minor importance. The whole of the electro-plated articles manufactured by Messrs Elkington and Co. are produced from a metal which consists of an alloy of nickel, &c.; the introduction of which is one of the most important improvements in connection with the manufacture, as the alloy is of greater hardness, while its colour approaches exceedingly close to that of silver. The articles exhibited in the show-rooms prove that the most beautiful plain surfaces, as well as every description of style, however elaborate, or whether embossed or engraved, can be produced with equal facility and success. One great feature in this establishment is the manufacture of bronzes, ranging in size and importance from colossal groups and figures, down to the smallest busts and statuettes. No visitor to Birmingham should omit an inspection of this attractive place, which vies with the oldest and most wealthy establishments of its class, in the perfection of its models and designs, and its well-earned reputation for excellence of worksmanship.
Source: Cornish's Stranger's Guide through Birmingham - Cornish Brothers - 1854