Six teaspoons by Phoenix Manufacturing
These spoons belong to the collection of silver and EPNS (electroplated nickel silver) tableware, trophies, napkin rings and spoons made and/or used in Australia between the 1890s and 1950s. Presented to the Museum in 2002, the collection was assembled in the 1980s by Dr G W Kenneth Cavill, an Emeritus Professor of the University of New South Wales. In his retirement, Professor Cavill has researched and published the histories of notable Australian silverware manufacturers of the first part of the 20th century. The collection is representative of their products.
Spoons are particularly well represented. This boxed set was made at the Phoenix Manufacturing Co Pty Ltd in Melbourne, in the 1920s. The firm was founded in 1916 by A I Ward (designer and metal worker), A E Bennett and J Sharp. The Phoenix company acquired a small electroplating business located at 181 Little Collins Street (this firm, set up in 1906, was mostly a replater and repairer of EPNS wares). In 1920 the company moved to larger premises in Richmond. By 1928 these premises doubled in size and Phoenix was reported to be the largest manufacturing silverware factory in the southern hemisphere. Alongside a wide range of products intended for household use, they supplied wares for hotels, restaurants, institutions and Australian shipping lines. They made racing trophies, vases and smaller decorative articles. Not only Phoenix wares successfully competed with overseas imports but were also popular in New Zealand. (K. Cavill, 'A successful enterprise of the early 20th century', 'Australiana', November 1993). According to the firm's 1928 catalogue Phoenix silverware was manufactured from "the finest 20% nickel silver of heavy gauge: the majority of these articles are seamless drawn, they are fashioned by skilled craftsmen and heavily plated with pure Broken Hill silver".