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Elkington & Co

Inkwell hallmarks 1845-46

6 x 14.3 x 3.5 cm (parts .a, .b and c together) | RCIN 34067

Queen's Sitting Room, Osborne House

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  • This wedding anniversary gift from Queen Victoria is a manifestation of the couple's taste for the Antique, as well as Prince Albert's fascination with the process of electrotyping. Being made of silver and partly gilded, it is one of the costlier versions of a popular design. Elkingtons had originally produced the model in 1844/5 and offered examples in solid silver or electroplate. Mintons later produced a version in porcelain.

    The inkwell was designed by the Danish-born architect Benjamin Schlick, who was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1828 by the French King Charles X, in recognition of his architectural work in Paris. He seems to have attended the British court several times. He was listed in The Times among the guests at the Buckingham Palace Fancy Ball of 1842, and it was at his suggestion that the following year Prince Albert visited Elkington's Birmingham premises, where his interest in the electrotyping process was born. Schlick's relationship with George Elkington was vital to the company's production at this period. His early life, spent in the courts of France, Italy and Denmark, meant that he had access to works of art which provided invaluable source material for electrotyping. Schlick and Elkington were also firm believers in the dissemination of classical source material for the development of good taste. In 1839 Schlick had visited Italy and become one of the leading figures in the preservation and restoration of the ancient remains being uncovered at Pompeii. He made close observations and sketches and developed a pantograph to create reductions of several of the objects uncovered. Although the inkwell was not directly based on an excavated lamp, it was inspired by the sketches Schlick made at that time.

    The Queen herself seems to have specified the addition of a lid to the inkwell, which was provided not by Elkingtons but by Garrard & Co., the royal goldsmiths, shortly before its presentation in 1850.

    Text from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love.

    Given to Prince Albert by Queen Victoria on their wedding anniversary, 10th February 1850 [Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010, pg 460]

    Design registered in 1844, by Benjamin Schlick for Elkingtons.

  • Medium and techniques

    6 x 14.3 x 3.5 cm (parts .a, .b and c together)