THE VISIT OF THE SULTAN OF ZANZIBAR TO BIRMINGHAM
On Saturday, the Seyyid of Zanzibar visited the famous silver and electro-plate works of Messrs Elkington & Co., in Newhall-street. His Highness was accompanied by his suite and Alderman Biggs (ex-mayor), Dr Badger, Dr Kirk (agent and Consul-General at Zanzibar), and Mr Clement Hill (Foreign Office attache). A considerable number of persons assembled in front of the Queen's Hotel, and cheered the Sultan as he left. The time fixed for the visit to Messrs Elkington's was half-past nine o'clock, it was, however, nearly half-past ten o'clock before the party arrived there. A large number of persons awaited the arrival in front of the works, and greeted the Seyyid with a hearty cheer as the carriages drew up before the portico entrance. Passing up the noble staircase, with an imposing array of bronze figures and statues of the Kings of England on each side, the distinguished visitors were ushered into the show rooms. The sight which meets the eye on entering this spacious apartment is most striking. Down the centre and upon each side are tables and handsome cases, containing an extensive and varied assortment of most costly plated and silver wares, beautiful specimens of skilled workmanship, of artistic designs. Time would only permit of a cursory glance at the most prominent things, and the chief features were pointed out through Dr. Badger, who interpreted to the Seyyid. Having looked at several dessert services and other ornamental articles, his highness's attention was directed to a fine solid silver cup, for presentation by Mr Peter Denny, of Helenslee, to the successful competitor of the 1st Administrative Battalion of Dumbartonshire Rifle Volunteers. He was then shown a basket of natural ferns, plated by a delicate process with gold and silver similar to the one presented to Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. He next inspected the Brighton Race Cup for 1875. The cup is at present unfinished, but it is a fine work of art and has been specially deigned. It is made of solid silver, and is of the value of 400 guineas. Around the basement seashells are represented, and above them four figures of boys pulling in nets. In bas-relief, around the body of the cup are represented the old games of tilting and tournament, and the horse race above these on each side being a profile of George the Fourth. The handles are formed with tournament lances, which support an escutcheon bearing the Brighton arms and the top of the cup is surmounted by a graceful female figure seated in a shell. The design is simple but appropriate, and the workmanship is excellent. His Highness was also much struck with the new breakfast dishes with revolving covers, the ingenuity and beauty of which are no less remarkable than the moderate prices at which they are produced. There were also a large number of beautiful and useful articles in course of manufacture for the use of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales during his tour in India. Glancing at cases filled with silver and gold cups, dessert services, and other ornamental articles of electro ware, including a splendid service, after the style of the one made for the King of Siam, the Sultan passed by a covered way to the various workshops of the manufactory. Among other things the Seyyid appeared much interested by the electro-depositing process. In the room where this process is conducted are large vats, and one of the largest electro-magnetic machines in England. The enormous strength of the machine was shown by the burning of thick iron and copper wire, at which the Seyyid was highly amused, for he laughed heartily when he saw the effect produced by the connection of the wire with the battery. It was said that his Highness has an electric battery at home, with which he amuses himself by making experiments. On reaching the department where plating and gilding are conducted, the Sultan was shown the process, and his Highness gilded several coins of the realm, in the same vat in which a vase was gilt by the Princess of Wales. He took the coins away with him, and was so much delighted with this process that he remained some time watching the gilding operations, and on leaving the department he exclaimed to Dr Badger that Birmingham was like Bir-Minham in Arabic, which Dr Badger explained meant a well of them, or theirs a well being a source, so that the Seyyid meant to express that Birmingham was a source of wealth. The party then returned to the show-room where, in addition to the coins which he had gilt, a copy of Messrs Elkington's Fine Art Catalogue was presented to the Seyyid. He then wrote his name, "Barge-hash-bin-Said," in Arabic characters in the visitors' book, and Dr Badger, Dr Kirk, Mr Hill, and Alderman Biggs also entered their name's. The Sulton, before departing, expressed himself highly gratified with his visit.
Source: South Wales Daily News - 10th July 1875