Historical information

This electroplated teaspoon made by Walker & Hall of Sheffield. It 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. It is part of the John Chance Collection.

Walker & Hall’s Marks on this teaspoon, the SHIELD and the FLAG, date the spoon between 1910 and before 1920. The letters, possibly N S, within a shield may stand for Nickel Silver.

The first Sheffield licence to make electroplated pieces of work was granted to John Harrison in 1843. One of his employees, George Walker, had been sent to learn electroplating skills at Elkington’s in Birmingham, who had patented the process discovered by Dr John Wright. Walker left Harrison in 1845 and started up his own company with Samuel Coulson and William Robson, to become George Walker & Co., electro-platers and gilders, taking out a licence with Elkington’s.

In 1848 Robson retired and Henry Hall joined the partnership, operating at Electro Works at 11 Howard Street Sheffield, with a showroom in at 45 Holborn Viaduct, London. The firm had changes in the partnership and by 1853 it was called Walker & Hall. Over the years the company grew, with branches in the UK and overseas in Australia and South Africa. Then John Bingham, and later his brother Charles Bingham, became involved in the business, increasing profits. In 1861 the firm registered its first Trademark, a stamped ‘Flag’ with a banner with letters ‘W & H’.

In 1884 Walker & Hall were one of the largest manufacturers and the second to introduce a voluntary system of using dating marks for silver plate, based on the alphabet and styles of shields or figures. The firm grew and prospered. It was described as ‘comprehensive … touching almost every department of Social life’, selling all manner of silverware and other goods.

In 1920 the firm became Walker & Hall Limited and continued to expand in the goods produced and the member employed. Then the effects of war brought economic depression and fewer people able to afford the quality luxury goods. Eventually, in 1963, the company amalgamated with Mappin & Webb and Elkington & Co., becoming British Silverware Ltd.


Although the spoon is not linked to a particular shipwreck, it is recognised as being historically significant as an example of cutlery, perhaps part of a passenger’s luggage or imported for use in Victoria in the early 20th century.

This spoon is significant for its association with makers Walker & Hall, famous for silverware and silver plate in the mid-19th to early-20th century. It is the only example in Flagstaff Hill’s shipwreck artefact collection.

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, electroplated, silver-bronze colour with dark flecks. Old English design. Maker’s Marks on back of spoon. Made by Walker & Hall, Sheffield.

Inscriptions & markings

Embossed individual stamps “W”, “&”, “H”, “S”
Embossed shape [SHIELD] with letters within, possibly “N S”
Embossed shape of [FLAG] with letters with “W & H”