"Pelican Ware" Tray
Thomas Wilkinson and Sons ( British )
- designed 1885
"Pelican Ware" was introduced by Thomas Wilkinson and Sons of Birmingham at the 1885 Industrial Fair in London. What was especially innovative about this line of metal wares was its decoration. Rather than simply gold plating the base metal, Wilkinson achieved the polychrome effect by suspending pigment in lacquer on the surface. The decoration featuring birds and plants in the Japanese taste was then painted on top of this lacquered surface. Although the effect of this decorative technique is stunning, it proved to be very fragile. Through polishing and repeated use the surface became abraded and the painted scenes eventually disappeared. Today few examples remain. This tea set is probably the largest group of "Pelican Ware" to enter a museum collection.