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Milk jug

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1876 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Elkington & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electroplated nickel silver, partially gilt and engraved, ivory insulators

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This miniature tea service, parcel gilt, each vessel composed of four panels engraved with Chinese figures and birds in landscapes, was made by Elkington and Co. in 1876 when the Aesthetic Movement was at the peak of fashionable taste. This tea service is an excellent example of the exotic influences that underpinned the movement. The Aesthetic Movement, as it came to be known, sought nothing less than the creation of a new kind of art, an art freed from outworn establishment ideas and untrammelled by Victorian notions of morality. This was to be 'Art for Art's sake' - art that did not tell stories or make moral points, art that dared simply to offer visual delight and hint at sensuous pleasure.

Elkingtons by the third quarter of the 19th century were at the peak of their success. George Richards Elkington and his cousin Henry Elkington had registered patents for electroplating and electrogilding on March 25th, 1840 which became the foundation of their commercial success. They were probably the most frequently represented of all British manufacturing silversmiths at the many local, national and international exhibitions held between 1840 and 1914.

Physical description

Milk jug, part of a three piece tea service which also includes a teapot and sugar basin, electroplated nickel silver, parcel-gilt. Box shaped body resting on four squat feet which are an extension of the corner brackets, gilded, supporting four rectangular panels, each engraved with a Chinese scene. A "C" shaped handle, square in cross section, attached to the back, the spout is extruded from the front panel. The interior, gilt.

Each of the rectangular side panels has an engraved scene, gilded, against a silver background, the left hand panel (facing forward) depicts two seated figures at a table drinking tea in the left hand foreground, on the right in the background is a house with a flag on the roof with a large tree behind, in the foreground a figure holding a fan walking towards the two seated figures. The scene on the right hand panel (facing backward) a man in profile is seated within an elaborate pavilion looking at a woman, fashionably dressed bearing a tray with a tea bowl which she is carrying towards the seated figure. There are engraved trees with foliage in both the central foreground and left background and in the lower left hand corner, an outcrop of rocks, surrounding the corner of a pool. The front and back panels are similar; engraved foliage in the centre above a pond with floating lilies, on the left hand side is engraved a rocky outcrop, on the right a bird is depicted sitting on a branch.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)


1876 (made)


Elkington & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Electroplated nickel silver, partially gilt and engraved, ivory insulators

Marks and inscriptions

Marks on the base: marks for Elkington & Co., stamped in a cross pattern / ELKINGTON AND CO. / P
The letter P denotes the year 1876 in the Elkington date letter system.

Number on the base: 15131
Elkington pattern number


Height: 6.6 cm, Width: 8.6 cm, Depth: 4.8 cm

Descriptive line

Electroplated nickel silver, partially gilt, Birmingham, marks for Elkington and Co., 1876.


Nickel silver; Silver; Gold; Ivory


Electroplating; Engraving (incising); Electrogilding

Subjects depicted

Figures (representations); Trees, blossoming; Buildings; Ponds; Foliage


Containers; Drinking; Metalwork; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares


Metalwork Collection

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