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Commemorative inkstand, about 1850, Elkington & Co.
V&A Museum no. 481&A-1901
George Richards Elkington (17 October 180122 September 1865) was a manufacturer from Birminghammarker, Englandmarker. He patented the first commercial electroplating process.

Elkington was born in Birminghammarker, the son of a spectacle manufacturer. Apprenticed to his uncles' silver plating business in 1815, he became, on their death, sole proprietor of the business, but subsequently took his cousin, Henry Elkington, into partnership. The science of electrometallurgy was then in its infancy, but the Elkingtons were quick to recognize its possibilities. They had already taken out certain patents for the application of electricity to metals when, in 1840, John Wright, a Birmingham surgeon, discovered the valuable properties of a solution of cyanide of silver in potassium cyanide for electroplating purposes. The Elkingtons purchased and patented Wright's process, subsequently acquiring the rights of other processes and improvements.

The Elkingtons opened a new electroplating works in Newhall Streetmarker, in the Jewellery Quartermarker, Birminghammarker in 1841, and the following year Josiah Mason, a pen manufacturer, joined the firm and encouraged the Elkingtons to diversify their output, adding more affordable electroplated jewellery and cutlery to the large pieces the company had been producing. Electroplated wares became very successful in the Victorian market and by 1880 the company employed 1,000 people at the Newhall Street site and had a further six factories.

Blue plaque on the old Birmingham Science Museum
There is a Blue Plaque commemorating him on the old Elkington Silver Electroplating Works (The old Science Museummarker), Newhall Street, Birmingham.


He married Mary Auster Balleney in 1825 and had seven surviving children, Frederick, George, James, Alfred, Howard, Hyla and one girl, Emma. Mary Auster died in 1858 and was buried in St. Mary's churchyard, Selly Oak, Birmingham. In 1860 he married secondly Margaret Morgan Jones.

Stained glass windows were erected in St. Mary's Church, Selly Oakmarker in memory of both wives and of him. George had made a substantial contribution towards the construction of this church.


L. Day & I McNeil (eds.), Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology (1996), 238-9.

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