Elkington Inkstand Elkington Inkstand Elkington Inkstand Elkington Inkstand Elkington Inkstand Elkington Inkstand Elkington Inkstand Elkington Inkstand
A Silvered, Gilt, Champlevé Enamel and Ivory Inkstand

By Elkington and Company, circa 1860

With applied seal Elkington & Co. 948
7 ½ in (19.1 cm) high, 10 ¾ in (27.3 cm) wide, 9 ½ in (24.2 cm) deep

cf. The Illustrated Catalogue of the International Exhibition, published with the Art Journal, 1862, p.195
Catalogue of the Vienna World Exhibition 1873, Elkington & Co., Group VII, 1873

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The size and presence of Elkington & Co. enabled the firm to survive and thrive in a society of quickly changing tastes. As Japanese and Eastern cultures were influencing art and fashion in the West, Elkington & Co. adapted and thrived. Through innovation and new designs they continued to exhibit at the International Exhibitions to much acclaim.

The inkstand is a prime example of Elkington & Co.’s adaptation and innovation. The incorporation of champlevé enamel is a direct reference to cloisonné enamels from Japan. Likewise, the caparisoned elephant heads complete with ivory tusks reflect an Eastern influence. A similar model was produced in silver and gold with champlevé enamel for the Great Exhibition of 1862. The exhibition model differs from this example by its finial, shaped in the form of a head. Another example was exhibited in the Vienna World Exhibition of 1873.

Champlevé enamelling was costly and involved much hand work. As the Art Journal noted, ‘The perfection to which Messrs. Elkington have brought the art has only been reached by numerous experiments, and many and costly failures…It may be mentioned as a special feature of enamel-work, that it does not admit of being copied or reproduced by any other method, and hence that it can never lose its rare and costly character.’ (John Culme, Nineteenth Century Silver, London, 1977, p.206)

Examples of Elkington & Co.’s champlevé enamel work can be found in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.