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  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1884 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    V&A Reproduction Department (commissioned by)
    Elkington & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electrotype copy of silver-gilt original

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, Bromley-by-Bow Room, case WN, shelf EXP

Object Type
This electrotype flagon or 'livery pot' is a copy of a silver-gilt flagon now in the Treasury of the Kremlin, Moscow. The original of 1612-13 was probably made in London.

Flagons or livery pots were used to distribute the daily allocation (or 'livery' from the French word livre, meaning allocation) of beer to servants, which they received in addition to wages. However, it is unlikely that silver livery pots were made for such a mundane purpose. It is more likely that they were designed in the latest fashions to grace a buffet of plate, displaying the wealth and status of the owner. The original flagon was probably a diplomatic gift to a tsar of Russia, possibly given in order to gain trading concessions.

Materials & Making
The technique of reproducing objects by electrotyping was first developed by the manufacturing firm of Elkington & Co. of Birmingham in the 1840s. Henry Cole (1808-82), the first director of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A), was quick to adopt this new technique to reproduce works of art. A plaster mould is made from an original object and used to make a cast in base metal. The model and an amount of plating metal are connected to electric terminals and placed in a container filled with a conductive solution. As it passes through, the electric current causes particles of the plating metal to be deposited on the surface of the model. The thickness of the plating can be regulated by the duration and voltage of the current. The plated object is then worked manually to erase imperfections.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)


1884 (made)


V&A Reproduction Department (commissioned by)
Elkington & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Electrotype copy of silver-gilt original


Height: 34 cm, Diameter: 23 cm maximum

Object history note

Made by Elkington & Co., Birmingham

Descriptive line


Labels and date

British Galleries:

The custom of melting down silver to remake it in newly-fashionable forms means that few pieces have survived from the 16th or early 17th centuries. These pieces are copies, made between 1868 and 1888 of the kinds of silver that might have been displayed on a court cupboard in about 1620. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

after original of 1612-1613




Metalwork; Drinking


Metalwork Collection

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