ORM 2017/178 Napkin ring, Gift of the Gartrell family Stokes & Sons, EPNS napkin ring with engraved floral motif and beaded edges
An object can tell many stories, and sometimes a bit of investigation is required to find out all of its secrets.
Most pieces of silver or plateware will feature a manufacturer’s mark. These marks can help you identify where the object was made, by whom and when. This napkin ring, recently donated to Orange Regional Museum, has a manufacturer’s mark featuring a six pointed star with an “S” within, and an upturned boomerang above. Under the star and boomerang are the letters “EPNS S&S”.
ORM 2017/178 Napkin ring
We know that “EPNS” refers to the material the napkin ring is made of, electroplated nickel silver. To identify the other marks on the napkin ring we used a few simple online resources; firstly the directory of Australian Silversmiths (http://www.silvercollection.it/AUSTRALIASILVERSMITHSA.html) which gives an alphabetical list of silversmiths and marks. Assuming that the “S” is significant as it appears within the star and is also feature in the last section of the mark “S&S”, a quick look under ‘S’ leads us to a very similar mark by Thomas Stokes who was active in Melbourne from the 1850s.
Using this information we then verify the mark through a matching example in another museum’s collection. On this occasion we searched the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ (MAAS) collection. Searching by the term ‘Thomas Stokes’ in the online catalogue (https://collection.maas.museum/) we find a decorative napkin ring made by Stokes and Sons in Melbourne c1920 with a matching manufacturer’s mark (https://collection.maas.museum/object/11681#&gid=1&pid=3).
Having positively identified the mark we conclude that the “S&S” refers to Stokes and Sons. Thomas Stokes emigrated from England in the 1850s and by 1856 had established himself as prominent a metalwork silverware producer. From 1896 Thomas’s sons, Harry, Thomas Jr. and Vincent, joined the firm and it began trading as Stokes & Sons. The MAAS has undertaken research into the manufacturer allowing us to establish a date range of manufacture as being between 1896 and 1920 by Thomas Stokes and his sons at their factory on Caledonian Lane, Melbourne, Victoria.
Why not see if you can find out about your own objects at home? We would love to hear about any discoveries.
A fascinating link to Orange’s past is presented by a glass cordial bottle with the name ‘F.H BROWN EAST ORANGE’ moulded on the front. Held in Orange Regional Museum’s collection, the bottle was found in the East Orange Channel by Orange City Council staff during works undertaken in 2016.
Glass cordial bottle, ‘F.H BROWN EAST ORANGE’, found in the East Orange Channel during works in 2016. ORM2016/227 Orange Regional Museum collection
Mr. F.H Brown was not Orange’s luckiest man, his cordial factory on Autumn Street in East Orange was up for sale in September 1914. However the sale did not go ahead as another article published by the Orange Leader reports his breach of the industrial act in July 1915. F.H Brown was fined for failing to keep time sheets and for pay sheets not being correctly written. His defense was that they were most likely placed in the waste paper basket. Found guilty Mr. Brown was fined £1.
Bad luck continued when Mr. F.H Brown’s cordial factory was destroyed by fire on Friday 13th December 1918. £1050 (over $50,000 in today’s money) worth of damage was done to the factory and machinery.
The fire seems to have been the final nail in the coffin for Mr. Brown as between February 1919 and late 1920 notices for the sale of a car, carts, wagons, scales, pumps and pipes were advertised in the local paper.
The bottle is a codd design that was used for carbonated drinks. This type of bottle is closed by a glass marble in the neck and a rubber seal in the lip. The bottles were filled upside down and the pressure of the carbonated drink closed the marble against the rubber seal. When opened the marble would fall into a larger chamber in the neck allowing the drink to be poured.
Because of the inclusion of the marble many of these bottles were broken after use to retrieve the marble for children’s entertainment. The bottle in the museum’s collection seems to have be broken for this purpose.
In October 1909 Mr. Walter Edgar Barrett was busy enlarging his factory to fit a new state of the art carbonating machine. At the time Mr. Barrett of Summer Street, Orange was the owner of the largest aerated water, cordial and ice works in the Western Districts and had recently been awarded prizes for his ‘non-intoxicating ale’ at the Royal Agricultural Show.
Barrett’s Cordial Factory, Orange, Catholic Press, Sydney, Thursday 14 October 1909
The Barrett’s cordial empire started with Walter’s father Thomas Barrett, who came to Orange from Bathurst to set up his business. By the time of Thomas Barrett’s death in 1916 the cordial business had been sold to a Mr. Cartwright. Cartwright held on to the business for about 12 months before selling to Mr. T.G.A Williams in 1917.
Found during excavation of the Orange Regional Museum site and held in the Museum’s collection, is a glass cordial bottle with ‘BARRETT ORANGE’ stamped on the side, indicating it’s use in the Barrett cordial factory on Summer Street. The bottle is a torpedo shape, designed to stop the bottle from being stood up. The cordial would then keep in contact with the cork so that the cork would not dry out and shrink, falling into the bottle.
Green glass torpedo-shaped cordial bottled marked ‘BARRETT ORANGE’. ORM2016/49 Orange Regional Museum collection
Cordial making in Orange was well established after the rush for gold at nearby Ophir in 1851. George Weily is believed to be one of the first manufacturers of cordials and ginger beer during in the 1860s. By the 1870s there were several firms specialising in making cordials in Orange.
A recent acquisition to the collection of Orange Regional Museum is a green glass bottle with wooden stopper, marked “W.S. STABBACK ORANGE”. William Samuel Stabback purchased the Phoenix Soda and Cordial Factory from Josiah Parker in 1871. The factory was located in a lane off Anson Street, now Stibbard’s Lane, (possibly a misspelling of the name Stabback).
Cordials were sold in a range flavours including; lemon, lime, raspberry and orange. The bottles were expensive to manufacture and were reused many times for the owner to make a profit. Often bottles were marked with the name of the manufacturer as can be seen with the Stabback’s bottle pictured below.
Advances in refrigeration and transport led to the decline of small cordial manufacturers. Whileys stopped manufacturing cordial in the 1960s.
Following from Josiah Parker’s carrier in cordial manufacturing he was Mayor of East Orange from 1888-1889. Similarly William Stabback was Mayor of East Orange in 1889, 1891-1893, 1895-1897.
Moulded green glass bottle with wood stopper, marked “W.S. STABBACK ORANGE”. ORM 2017/115 Gift of Denise Moriarty.
An 1894 dictionary of cookery, published by Cassell, Petter and Galpin, gives insight into the time intensive process of making cordial during the late 1800s. A recipe for Hops and Sherry Cordial involves shaking and pressing hops covering them with sherry and leaving for a month for the flavors to infuse. Following this the mixture is strained and sugar is added. The final product must be kept in ‘closely corked bottles’ and should be mixed with water to consume.
For more Victorian recipes including ginger, cinnamon and aromatic cordials check out the Cassell’s dictionary of cookery here.
Hops and Sherry Cordial Recipe, Cassell’s dictionary of cookery containing about nine thousand recipes, 1894