Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks
George Richards Elkington (October 17, 1801September 22, 1865) was a manufacturer from Birmingham, England. He patented the first commercial electroplating process.
Elkington was born in Birmingham, 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 Street, in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham 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.
There is a Blue Plaque commemorating him on the old Elkington Silver Electroplating Works (The old Science Museum), Newhall Street, Birmingham.