Plaster cast maker Giovanni Ferdinando Franchi was born around 1812 in Lucca. He settled in London around 1834. By around 1851, working from premises at no. 15 Myddleton Street, Clerkenwell, he had become a specialist in the new technique of electrotyping (a chemical method for forming metal parts that exactly reproduce a model invented by Moritz von Jacobi in 1838). Electrotype copies were used as aids for students in schools of design and museums acquired them as part of a growing collection of reproductions. Franchi and his son Giovanni Antonio sold electrotypes commercially in a variety of finishes. In 1851 he employed two fellow workers from Lucca named Lazzaro Baldera and Giovanni Bartoli who resided at the same address. Franchi died in Islington in November 1874. The business was taken over by Elkington & Co. that same year.