Australian Historical Art Fund & Heritage Government Residences

Silver Claret Jug, C.1861

William Edwards (1819-?)
Height 43 cm

This beautifully embossed jug with military scenes around a foliate cartouche is inscribed with the monogram ‘WR’ or ‘RW’ and has a kangaroo finial.

William Edwards was a prolific silversmith who produced work of the highest quality with the best embossing. Edwards emigrated to Melbourne in 1857 while his brother, also a silversmith, continued to work in London in the family business. Bringing with him stock decorated with colonial motifs, to wholesale to retailers, Edwards had the advantage of being able to produce pieces here in Australia and also to import work from his brother’s workshop – it is not unusual to see some of his pieces have an English character even when decorated with Australian motifs.

Edwards’ silver from 1859 to 1879 can be dated accurately, with little work after 1870. He went into partnership with Alexander Kaul in 1874 and seemed to take little interest in the business after this as the high quality embossing ceased. He displayed his work at the International Exhibition in 1861 and the Intercolonial Exhibition in 1866-67, both in Melbourne. Edwards made sporting trophies, cup caskets, inkstands, epergnes and emu egg ornaments. He won major commissions such as a wedding gift for Princess of Wales in 1863, gifts for Prince Albert, The Duke of Edinburgh. In 1867 he was given a Royal appointment.


Four Piece Silver Tea and Coffee Service, C.1942

W. J. Sanders & Co., NSW
Teapot 14.5 x 24.5 cm.
Coffee pot 19 x 17 cm.
Sugar bowl 6 x 9.5 cm.
Cream jug 9 x 10 cm.
Original box with engraved plaque

Presented to Mrs John (Elsie) Curtin, the wife of The Right Honourable John Curtin, MHR, PC, 14th Prime Minister from 1941 to 1945, by the Directors of the Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Pty Ltd on the occasion of the launching of HMIS ‘Bengal’ at Cockatoo Island May 28th 1942.

The service comprises a teapot, coffee pot, sugar bowl and cream jug, all with pie crust borders, ovoid body and stepped foot, the tea and coffee pots with ebonised wooden handles and knobs. Each object in the service is engraved on one side with an entwined monogram ‘J C’ for John Curtin.

The Fund had the good fortune to acquire this service from an auction of the John Curtin family in 1990. 


Centrepiece Formed as the Dunstan Pillar, c.1810

Paul Storr (1771-1844)
Sterling Silver
Height: 79cm

This centrepiece is a replica of the Dunstan Pillar, a stone monument of George III at Nocton, Lincolnshire. It was commissioned by Robert, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire in 1810 to commemorate the King's Golden Jubilee. This miniature silver version was commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks, the noted naturalist and botanist, who sailed with Captain Cook on the H.M.S Endeavour to Australia in 1770. Sir Joseph Banks also lived near the stone monument at Nocton in his house Revesby Abbey. As a result of his achievements in the scientific study of natural history, Banks was elected President of the Royal Society, a position he held until his death.


Pair of Candelabra, Set of Four Candlesticks and Pair of Wine Coolers, c.1810

Matthew Boulton (1728-1809)
Old Sheffield Plate
Diameter: 18cm Height: 62cm
Old Sheffield Plate
Diameter: 18cm Height: 30.5cm
Old Sheffield Plate
Diameter: 14cm Height: 23.5cm

This pair of wine coolers, pair of candelabra and set of four candlesticks by noted silversmith, Matthew Boulton, are engraved with the crest of Sir Richard Bourke - the crest being a cheetah on a leash. Boulton expanded the use of Sheffield plate for a greater range of domestic articles, improving the quality by using solid ribbons of silver on the edges to avoid the copper underneath wearing through.


This selection represents a small sample of our collection. Our book detailing the collection is currently out of print.
An updated edition has been published in 2017.
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