Five pieces of matching cutlery, believed to have belonged to Captain James Cook.

The cutlery set is thought to have been passed by Captain Cook's wife Elizabeth on her death to her cousin Captain John Smith R.N. and his wife, who were her first cousins. (She also left 1,000 pounds each to her cousins, of which there were several, and to their mother she left household furniture, charts, nautical instruments, native weapons and many other possessions.)

The cutlery was subsequently passed on to two of Captain John Smith's granddaughters. One of these married a Mr J.J. Fenton, whose family donated the cutlery to Museum Victoria in 1977. A knife and fork believed to be from the same set (ST 21275-76) were sold by another granddaughter, Mrs Alice H. Mitten, to the National Gallery of Victoria in 1906. (Mrs Mitten is the source of provenance of the cutlery.) They were transferred to Museum Victoria in 1940.

The cutlery was acquired in a non-original box.

The Fenton family also donated a bonnet, thought to have been worn by Captain Cook's wife Elizabeth, with similar provenance.

Physical Description

Five pieces of steel cutlery with wooden handles and silver trims. The pieces comprise a carving knife; two two-pronged forks, the larger possibly a pair for the carving knife; and two knives with scimitar-shaped blades, rounded at ends. The silver trims are plain, without hallmarks.


Statement of Significance

The cutlery has a strong link to the family of Captain James Cook, and thus is of considerable significance. The State Library of Victoria holds a miniature celestial globe reputed to have been used by Captain Cook on his voyages of discovery. The Library's records state that the globe 'was originally purchased by Mr Ham the Mayor of Melbourne, in 1882, from Mrs Ann Elizabeth Smith. She reported that her husband's father, Captain John Smith, had been a relative of Captain Cook's wife who had bequeathed the globe and other items belonging to the explorer and circumnavigator to Captain Smith. Further information on the globe and other artifacts can be found in the Argus newspaper October 25, 1882.'

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