Frank Cobb & Co
Material and Medium: Sterling silver
Dimensions: Overall: 243 x 158mm (9 9/16 x 6 1/4in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2007.11
This silver cup was made by the silversmithing firm Frank Cobb & Co of Sheffield in 1936. The cup was owned by the Nottinghamshire branch of the Fox Terrier Club, a national association established in 1876. The Nottinghamshire branch of the club was founded in 1905.
The cup is engraved with the words "The Veterinary Challenge Cup Presented by Major P M Evershed M.R.C.V.S. 1936". [Member of the Royal Veterinary College].
The cup is named the Veterinary Challenge Cup and it was used by the Nottinghamshire Fox Terrier Club from 1936-2006. The cup was awarded to the overall champion at the club's annual show, which was held in Chesterfield. The winning owner was able to keep the cup for one year.
In its heyday, over two hundred dogs were displayed at the annual show. The Nottinghamshire Fox Terrier Club held its final show on the 11th November 2006 and the club has since disbanded.
Cups and trophies were made in Sheffield in large quantities during the 1800s and 1900s and continue to be made today. Catalogues of large firms from the late 1800s often show a vast range of these objects, including those for sporting events and civic ceremonies. These were made with blank cartouches that could be engraved with the name of the winner or event.
Many Sheffield silversmithing companies, both in the past and today, have received commissions to make trophies of international significance. A good example of this is the range of extraordinary trophies made by James Dixon & Sons in the 1900s. Many of these were designed by the firm's chief designer, Charles Holliday. They include the Masters Golf Tournament trophy, Eisenhower golf trophy, Harold Fern National Swimming Trophy, sixteen Grand National trophies and the iconic Blue Riband (Hales Trophy), awarded for the fastest ship to cross the Atlantic.
Revealing the object's Hidden History…
As part of the DCF funded Living Metal project, we visited Ken Hawley and Joan Unwin at the Hawley Collection Trust to find out more about how the cup was made. The Hawley Collection is an internationally important collection of primarily Sheffield made edge-tools and cutlery.
Hidden History: how was it made?
Ken examined the interior base of the cup and identified an indentation in the bottom that indicated that the main body cup had been spun on a chuck, rather than hand raised. Joan noted that, given the height of the cup, the body must have been spun from a very large flat disc of silver. This would have been "really hard work". The handles are cast.
The top edge of the cup is finished with silver wire. This 'beaded edge' is made from two separate pieces of silver wire soldered onto the top edge of the cup. It has come away slightly where the cup has been dropped or damaged and possibly repaired.
When examining the surface of the cup Ken told us "I'm using this as a mirror and if a mirror's not flat it distorts the light". He showed us that the surface is distorted in places where there are small dents as a result of the cup's long history of use.
Hidden History: how was the inscription achieved?
The inscription is on the cup is engraved and not chased. The inscription would first be marked out with a pencil. The engraving would be carried out using a tool comparable to a fine chisel. This is pushed by hand and cuts a fine line into the surface, whereas chasing 'moves' and indents the metal with a punch.
When asked how to distinguish engraving from chasing, Ken told us that the chasing process causes a deformation of the surface of the metal, as a hammer is used. Engraving does not deform the piece, as the surface is cut rather than struck.
Ken noted that accomplished engravers are able to identify very subtle details in a piece of engraving. He gave the example that they could identify if more than one engraver had worked on an inscription, or even if the engraver had been a bit tired when completing the work
"To look out of the eyes of an engraver is another world."
Hidden History: Ken Hawley's thoughts on the cup…
"This cup would be made down to a price, the manufacturing techniques used reflect this, with the cup & base both being spun rather than hand raised. The simple design reflects the style of the period."
This object was kindly donated by the Nottinghamshire Fox Terrier Club.
Information on the silversmith Frank Cobb & Co courtesy of Sheffield Assay Office.