Epergne (table centrepiece) comprising fruit bowl and vase, electroplated silver (EPNS) made by Regal Silver Plate Co Pty, Ltd, for New South Wales Government Railways, Sydney, Australia, 1930s
This epergne (table centrepiece) was part of tableware and cutlery commissioned by New South Wales Government Railways from Regal Silver Plate Co Ltd, one of several firms in Sydney in the 1930s that produced silver plated articles such as cutlery, sets of spoons, tea and coffee pots, serving dishes and napkin rings. Located in Bishop Lane in the inner-city suburb of Ultimo, it was listed in 'The Electroplater's Year Book' of 1938, a publication of the trade journal 'The Commonwealth Jeweller and Watchmaker'. In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a thriving electroplate (silver-coated nickel) industry in Australia that successfully competed with imports from Great Britain, continental Europe and the USA. In the 1950s stainless steel gradually superseded silver and electroplated silver as preferred materials for articles for the table, both for domestic use and in the hotel trade and restaurants. Today, only a small number of well-preserved Regal products are known to have survived, including this unusual example.
For decades rail travel was the only means of transport for travelling around NSW. To cater for the refreshment needs of these passengers, from politician to businessmen, and entertainers to farmers, the New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) developed a comprehensive network of refreshment rooms which operated from the 1880s to the mid-1950s. These were graded from special than first down to sixth grade. Elegant dining service, the special grade, was offered at Gosford, Junee, Coffs Harbour, Taree and Albury, with silver items such as this epergne for flowers and fruit.
Eva Czernis-Ryl & Margaret Simpson
This epergne for flowers and fruit was among the tableware commissioned in the 1930s by New South Wales Government Railways for their elegant refreshment rooms including those at Gosford, Junee, Coffs Harbour, Taree and Albury.