The stamp of “Elkington Mason & Co.” was the firm’s name between 1842 and 1861 which dates the candelabra sufficiently; It operated under the name G. R. Elkington & Co. until 1842, when a third partner, Josiah Mason, joined the firm. It operated as Elkington, Mason, & Co. until 1861, when the partnership with Mason was terminated. The firm operated independently as Elkington & Co. from 1861 until 1963.
Elkington & Co. are one of the most important names in English silver and certainly silver plate. They began life in Birmingham as a company of silversmiths in 1836, and experimented with improving gilding techniques discovering and patenting a new way to electroplate one metal on to the surface of another. In 1868, Queen Victoria permitted much of the royal plate to be copied by Elkingtons and they were also the suppliers of flatware to the luxury dining sections on board the Titanic and other ships in the White Star Line fleet.
The fact that these candelabra are in gilt bronze, rather than silver plate, which was much more common for the firm, could suggest that they were part of a larger garniture for the Great Exhibition of 1851; where Elkington and Co exhibited with enormous success, held at Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, organised by Prince Albert and Henry Cole as an international showcase for modern technology and industrial achievement. They won a Council medal from Jury XXIII for artistic application of electrotype.
The word candelabra is a derivation of the Latin word “candelabrum” which means candlestick. A Menorah, a specific seven-branched candelabrum is one of the oldest symbols of Jewish faith. Although it is understood candelabra were used during the Middles Ages (400 –1400 AD), artefacts and records from the 1600’s provide examples of candlesticks and candelabra. In the 1800’s, silver candelabra became de rigueur at the evening dinner table, providing both illumination and decoration for the substantial, end of day meal. The demise of the candelabra, along with candlesticks, came with the invention of the light bulb in the 1870’s.
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