Gilt vase, c 1841.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
One of a group of three gilt vases by Alexander Parkes (1813-1890) and made by Elkington & Company. The vase is made of copper and electroplated with gold. Parkes took out his first patent on 'Electroplating Works of Art' in 1841. In the electroplating proces a metal is deposited by pasing an electric current through a solution of one of its salts. Parkes even electroplated a spider's web which was presented to Prince Albert. He developed various metallurgical proceses as well as the first plastic, Parkesine. He was nicknamed the 'Nester of Electrometallurgy'.