Historical information

This spoon, made by Henry Barnascone of Sheffield, was recovered from an unknown shipwreck in the coastal waters of Victoria in the late 1960s to early 1970s. The spoon is one-o-a-kind in our Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Collection of shipwreck artefacts. It is possibly from a passenger’s luggage on one of the shipwrecks. The shipwrecks in the area range from around the 1840s to the early 1930s. It is part of the John Chance Collection.


Henry Barnascone (1827-1894) was born in Switzerland. He and his brother Lewis settled in Sheffield in 1851. Henry operated as Henry Barnascone from 1868 to 1883, trading in Angel Street as a cutler, manufacturer and general merchant, moving to York Street in 1874. His work included electroplating metalware. Products ranged from cutlery and serving trays to straight razors, measuring tapes and pocket knives.

In 1884 his firm became H. Barnascone & Son and from 1901 to 1934 be firm was renamed H. Barnascone & Sons, with his son (or nephew) Charles Henry ‘Harry’ Barnascone brought in to join the business. The firm employed eight men and four women in 1881. Around 1892 the firm moved to Empire Works in Eyre Street. Charles (Harry) inherited the business when Henry died in 1894. In 1909 the company became ‘Ltd.’, with Charles continuing until his death in 1917. The firms trademarks were EMPIRE (with ‘trefoil’ or ‘clover’ symbol), THE HUNGRY WOLF BRAND and PROLIFIC.

The firm was liquidated in 1934 and acquired by Harrison Fisher & Co. Ltd., which specialised in plated goods and silverware, and retained Barnascone’s trademarks. In the early 1990s Harrison Fisher, which employed about 200, was arguably the only surviving example of the type of firm that had flourished in nineteenth century Sheffield – one which marketed a full range of cutlery. It remained family-owned. In 2007 Harrison Fisher & Co. Ltd. was renamed Taylor’s Eye Witness Ltd, which, in 2016, ‘swapped’ the nineteenth century historic factory for a new industrial unit in Sheffield.


Although the spoon is not linked to a particular shipwreck, it is recognised as being historically significant as an example of hardware 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 being Flagstaff Hill’s only shipwreck artefact amongst many hundreds of objects, including cutlery, to be branded with ‘Empire Silver’ and the only piece in our collection by Sheffield manufacturer Henry Barnascone.

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; teaspoon, electroplate nickel-silver, silver discoloured to brown. Fiddle design. Five embossed Hallmarks. Five embossed Maker’s Marks on back of handle, arranged in a column from tip towards bowl. Made by William Page and Co., Birmingham. The spoon no longer has its silver plating. Bowl has a cut in the side, and is nicked and dented.

Inscriptions & markings

Embossed “EMPIRE“ (trefoil or clover logo) “SILVER”