Birmingham's proud trophy-making history

Wimbledon men's singles trophy The All England Lawn Tennis Club paid 100 guineas for the men's singles champion trophy, which was made by a Birmingham firm of silversmiths

Related Stories

The Wimbledon men's and ladies' singles trophies were both made in Birmingham in the 19th Century, but what other trophies were created in the city's famous Jewellery Quarter?

As sporting events became increasingly popular and rich during the latter half of the 19th Century it became common to award grand and expensive trophies to the victors.

Birmingham, as home to many of the best gold and silversmiths in the country, quickly became a leading player in the development of the sporting trophy and still maintains a prominent position today.

line break
Wimbledon trophies

When the winners of the men's and ladies' singles hold their trophies aloft on Centre Court at the All England Club this year, they will have silverware made in Birmingham in their hands.

Both the men's trophy and the ladies' Championship Plate, also known as the Rosewater Dish, were made by the city's silversmiths Elkington and Co.

Ladies Singles Championship Plate The Wimbledon Ladies Singles trophy is a copy of a Huguenot pewter dish in the Louvre known as the Temperentia dish, designed by Francois Briort in the 1580s.

The company was founded in the 1830s and at its peak employed more than 2,500 workers at its factory in the Jewellery Quarter.

"In the 19th Century if you needed a trophy made you went to Elkington and Co," said Craig O'Donnell, a valuer and curator at the Birmingham Assay Office.

The company was known as "the best quality silversmith in Birmingham" with so many super-rich clients that it could afford not to "skimp on the quality of the metal", he added.

Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter

  • Birmingham was well known for its metal-workers, long before the creation of the Jewellery Quarter
  • In the mid 1800s many switched to silver-smithing when Australia and North America started exporting the metal in larger quantities
  • Birmingham's Assay Office was established in 1773 and as it grew in the 19th Century, more skilled silversmiths were drawn to the city
  • The Jewellery Quarter is home to Europe's largest school of jewellery, which is more than 100 years old
  • There are more than 200 listed buildings in the area
  • The Birmingham Assay Office hallmarks about three million objects a year
  • The whistles for the Titanic were also made in the Jewellery Quarter

Elkington and Co perfected a process known as electroforming, which uses an electrical current to coat a mould with silver. This process was used to create the Wimbledon Rosewater dish in 1864.

The trophy is a mixture of silver and silver-gilt (silver coated with gold) and is a copy of a French dish in known as the Temperentia held in the Louvre. It depicts the four elements surrounded by seven arts - astrology, geometry, arithmetic, music, rhetoric, dialetic and grammar.

A copy was made of the original and then electroforming was used to build it up layer by layer in a process that took several months to complete.

The trophy was well received and the firm was called on again years later when the All England Tennis Club needed a new men's trophy, the previous two having both been given to William Renshaw when he twice won the tournament three times in succession.

The cup was made in a classical style with two handles and is highly decorated with floral work, winged helmets beneath the handles and a pineapple sitting on top.

Less is known about the making of this trophy, but the hallmark indicates it was made in 1883 before being purchased by the All England Lawn Tennis club for 100 guineas in 1886.

However, despite the wealth and glamour of its glory days, as silverware went out of fashion in the 20th Century the firm's fortunes declined. It was taken over in 1963 and its factory in the Jewellery Quarter closed down and was later demolished.

line break
FA Cup

Birmingham's trophy-making expertise was called upon again in 1895 when one of the city's football clubs, Aston Villa, managed to lose the FA Cup trophy.

Manchester City, FA Cup Winners, 1904 Manchester City in 1904 with FA Cup made in Birmingham

The team had won the trophy and were proudly displaying it in a shop window but burglars broke in and stole it.

The FA ordered the club to fund a replacement and they turned to another Jewellery Quarter firm, P Vaughton and Sons, to make an exact replica of the stolen trophy.

Fortunately, three years previously, the company had taken a plaster cast of the trophy in order to make a miniature for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Birmingham-made FA Cup remained in service until 1910, when it was presented to the President of the Football Association Lord Kinnaird and replaced with a trophy made in Bradford. It is now on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

However, Vaughton's still makes medals for the Football League at its new base in the Jewellery Quarter and maintains a collection of the medals it made for the 1908 London Olympics.

Vaughton's factory Vaughton's "gothic works" in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter still stands today
line break
Premier League medals

Vaughton and Sons have also made the Premier League's winners medals for about 20 years.

Sir Alex Ferguson lifts the Premier League trophy Manchester United with their Premier League medals in 2013

They are made of silver and then gold-plated with the league's lion motif.

Although the design looks simple, the firm's managing director Steve Hobbis said they were difficult to make because of a number of little details such as the marks around the edge representing the 20 teams in the league.

Mr Hobbis said his company won the contract because of its reputation as a medal-making specialist.

line break
Olympic torch

Another big commission for Birmingham craftsmen was the torch for the 1948 Olympic games in London.

1948 Olympic Torch British athlete John Mark carries the Birmingham-made Olympic torch into Wembley Stadium at the opening ceremony of the 1948 Olympic Games

It was created by a Birmingham designer, Bernard Cuzner, and made in the city by Stanley Morris for London's Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, which has the torch in its collection today.

The silver torch has octagonal sides decorated by oak leaves, acorns and rose briars and crowned leopards heads decorate the top.

It was very different from the 2012 Olympic torches, which were made by a Coventry firm and cut from aluminium sheets using machines and lasers.

Those technologies did not exist in 1948, when many trophies were still engraved by hand if they could not be electroformed.

line break
Lonsdale belts

The Lonsdale champion belts given to British boxing champions are made in the Jewellery Quarter by Thomas Fattorini Ltd.

Lonsdale belt The Lonsdale Belt is awarded to British boxing champions like Carl Froch

They were first introduced in 1909 by Hugh Lowther, the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, and are created using a complicated process which can take several weeks.

First the individual parts are die stamped from silver before being machined and hand finished.

Fattorini said the pieces were then attached to the main centre panel, which holds the large, hand-painted enamel portrait of Lord Lonsdale and two smaller painted panels.

The enamel work has to be fired in an oven and because the different colours need to be heated at different temperatures this needs to be done in stages over several days or weeks.

Finally, the craftsmen polish the metalwork and plate it in 24ct gold before attaching the red, white and blue ribbons.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Birmingham & Black Country

Weather

Birmingham

13 °C 7 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    'Influx of poorer families' feared 09:15: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

    Sandwell Council says it is concerned a change in council tax policy could mean an influx of poorer families coming in from London.

    It is after a judge ruled the authority's two-year residency policy for claiming council tax benefit was unlawful.

     
  2.  
    Fallout from Fellaini tweet 09:06: Birmingham Mail

    West Bromwich Albion were accused of a "complete lack of knowledge, class and respect" by a Manchester United player for a tweet about Marouane Fellaini.

    Marouane Fellaini slammed Manchester United level within minutes of coming on as a substitute

    In actual fact, what the Baggies were guilty of was a clumsy, ill-advised attempt at 'Carry On' style humour.

     
  3.  
    News on the hour 08:56: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

    We will hear from Sandwell Council's deputy leader Steve Eling in the 09:00 bulletin, who says authorities in London are trying to shift their problems into the West Midlands.

    Listen live to BBC WM.

     
  4.  
    Dark clouds above city 08:49:

    This was the view from the BBC's Birmingham office at the Mailbox earlier this morning, as dark clouds gathered above the city.

    Sky over Birmingham

    Share your photos with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

     
  5.  
    Train delays 08:40: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    If you're travelling via train to the North West from the West Midlands today, there's some hold-ups.

    Virgin Trains is running with an emergency speed restriction on the West Coast Mainline between Preston and Lancashire, with 15-minute delays expected.

     
  6.  
    Congestion on A34 eases 08:29: Steve Hermon Journalist, BBC WM

    We had reports of congestion on A34 towards the underpass where it flooded last week. It looks OK to me.

    The A34
     
  7.  
    Flights OK at Birmingham Airport 08:18: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    The weather has not yet caused any problems at Birmingham Airport.

    Some Lufthansa services could be cancelled due to unrelated strike action. Passengers are advised to check with Lufthansa directly to see if their flight is affected.

     
  8.  
    Video: The hurricane effect 08:05:
  9.  
    News on the hour 07:56: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

    In the 08:00 bulletin: There will be a consultation about whether to close some libraries and children's centres in Walsall.

     
  10.  
    TOP HEADLINES
     
  11.  
    Gales 'coincide with rush hour' 07:47:

    The Met Office said the gales would "coincide with the morning rush hour in places".

    Forecasters warn that fallen leaves could impede drainage, increasing the risk of surface water on roads and causing difficult driving conditions.

     
  12.  
    Heavy traffic 07:41:

    John Pugh texts to say the A34 from Walsall to Birmingham is "very heavy" past the Scott Arms.

    That tallies with the latest information from BBC Travel, which reports stop-start traffic and delays on the A34 Birmingham Road southbound in Great Barr between the Scott Arms traffic lights and the A4040 Aston Lane junction.

    Keep up to date with the latest travel information here.

     
  13.  
    Gales forecast 07:33:

    The Met Office has issued "be aware" warnings, with gales forecast for much of the UK, while BBC Weather said heavy rain was already spreading across many areas.

    Weather map
     
  14.  
    Problems on Stafford Road 07:24:

    The A449 Stafford Road in Dunstall, Wolverhampton, is partially blocked at the Gorsebrook Road junction because of a broken down vehicle, says BBC Travel.

     
  15.  
    M6 delays 07:19: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    On the M6 there is a lane closed on the exit slip road and slow traffic southbound at J7, for the A34 at Great Barr, because of a broken down vehicle.

    For more information visit BBC Travel.

     
  16.  
    Gale-force winds 07:13: Sara Blizzard Weather Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    Today there will be gales for all parts. The rain from overnight will soon clear south-east, then colder and clearer conditions will follow.

    There will also be scattered squally showers, which bring a risk of hail and thunder, spreading across the region. Highs of 11C (52F).

     
  17.  
    Travel disruption 07:09: BBC WM

    Thousands of people face travel disruption today, with 10% of flights being cancelled at Heathrow Airport because of strong winds and heavy rain.

    This is all down to the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo.

    There's a Yellow Weather warning in place for the West Midlands but no word yet on disruption to flights at Birmingham Airport.

     
  18.  
    Good morning 07:00: Alex Homer BBC Local Live

    I'm back in the BBC WM newsroom bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather.

    We've started the Local Live service an hour earlier today to update you with the situation as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo arrive. Get in touch with us today via email, Facebook and Twitter.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.