Historical information

This tablespoon was recovered from an unknown shipwreck in the coastal waters of Victoria in the late 1960s to early 1970s. The shipwrecks in the area range from around the 1840s to the early 1930s, and this particular spoon dates from about 1866 to 1932. It is part of the John Chance Collection.

This spoon has the embossed names of Pompton and Silver and appears to have other marks that have worn off. The Pompton brand was used on silver flatware made by Cooper Brothers & Sons. Ltd of Sheffield. In Australia the Pompton Silver cutlery was advertised for sale in Sydney in the mid-1920s.

The spoon is likely to be plated silver or silver plate, which is a base metal such as nickel or nickel alloy with copper and/or zinc that has been plated or coated with a thin layer of silver. Wear on the metal will cause the base metals to appear through the silver plating. Some manufacturers gave a warranty that the cutlery was ‘white throughout’ but didn’t necessarily say it was solid silver.

Cooper Brothers was established in 1866 by brothers Thomas and John William Cooper in High Street, Sheffield. They bought Don Plate Works in 1872. By 1876 they were at Bridge Street and in 1885 they purchased the works at 44 Arundel St Sheffield. In 1895 the firm became Cooper Brothers & Sons Ltd. By 1914 they had branches in London, Sydney, Melbourne and Montreal, advertising as silversmiths, silver cutlers, electroplaters, Britannia Metal smiths and cutlers, particularly spoons and forks. The firm also used the trademarks of DON SILVER, POMPTON SILVER and a logo of a Cooper (barrel maker) in different formats. Cooper Brothers & Sons had a reputation for producing good quality silver and silver plate. In 1900 they registered their Maker’s Mark of the letters ‘CB&s’ within a shield. They also used the Sheffield Assay Hallmark of a Crown.

A diagram on a Copper Brothers & Sons, Don Plate Works, advertisement showed three styles of cutlery; No. 393, Old English, and Fiddle. They announced that they were the ‘sole makers of the celebrated “Don” brand of nickel silver spoons and forks’.

A burglary in NSW in 1929 listed a stolen flatware set as ‘all Sheffield Silver plate and branded Pompton Silver Works A.1.’. It was ‘guaranteed to wear white throughout’ and was a ‘good, medium quality, nickel silver line’.

Cooper Brothers & Sons Ltd. was acquired in 1983 by Frank Cobb & Co. Ltd.


Although the spoon is not linked to a particular shipwreck, it is recognised as being historically significant as an example of cutlery either as part of the ship’s flatware service or imported for use in Colonial Victoria in the 19th to early 20th century.

The spoon is significant for its association with renowned makers Cooper Brothers of Sheffield, makers of silverware from the 1860s to the 1980s and exporters into the Colonies.

The spoon is also significant as it was recovered by John Chance, a diver in Victoria’s coastal waters in the late 1960s to early 1970s. Items that come from several wrecks have since been donated to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village’s museum collection by his family, illustrating this item’s level of historical value.

Physical description

Spoon; plated silver tablespoon with brown base metal. Handle is Old English design and is embossed - some marks are worn and unidentifiable. Branded Pompton Silver.

Inscriptions & markings

Embossed within two rectangular shapes “POMPTON” and “SILVER” (other marks have worn off)