Industrial Context

Royal EDISWAN the king of lamps

Iron, its production and use, was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Starting in Britain with the iron foundry of Abraham Darby, the Revolution spread to mainland Europe; the rate of cross-fertilization of ideas, techniques and use of materials between nations, fuelled by coal, linked by railways and canals, and financed by manufacture and trade, increased rapidly.

In 1857 Benjamin Baugh made a trip to German enamelling plants. These produced enamelled iron domestic utensils. Inspired, he returned to England, becoming manager of Salt's Patent Enamel Works, an enamelling business at premises in Bradford Street, Birmingham, specialising in the metal fabrication and enamelling process.

By 1889 Salt's had become a public company, and built a large factory at Selly Oak, Birmingham. Named the "Patent Enamel Company", it was designed and laid out for the production of enamelled iron advertising signs.

Other companies built factories devoted to the production of enamel signs in Britain, Sweden, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and the Americas and India from the 1890's to the 1920's. The resulting mass production meant that by the turn of the Century enamel advertising signs had become widespread throughout Europe and its worldwide dominions, and in the USA.