Candelabrum presented to Sir Charles Cowper by the Sydney Railway Company

Made by Garrard II, Robert in London, England, 1855.

The silver candelabrum was presented to Sir Charles Cowper (1807-1875) from the Sydney Railway Company in 1855. In 1849 Cowper was elected to the board of the Sydney Tramway and Railway Co. and became its chairman and manager. He worked tirelessly to overcome the numerous difficulties in building the first railway in New South Wales, which opened in 1855 from Sydney to Parramatta. The candelabrum was made by Robert Garrard II of London, the renowned silversmiths who not only made tableware but a...


Candelabrum, four-branched, sterling silver, presented to Sir Charles Cowper by the Sydney Railway Company, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1855, designed and made by Robert Garrard II, London, England, 1855.

A mostly cast sterling silver candelabrum in the form of a putto (figure of a cupid-like child) whose right knee is kneeling on a tripod baroque base. The putto holds aloft the shaft and four branches of the candelabrum. The spreading waisted base stands on three scroll feet decorated with shell motifs. Edged by massive scrolls applied with acanthus leaves, the three panels of the base are decorated with anthemion (palmette) motifs at the centre just above the feet. A draped cloth covers the left thigh of the putto. The short foliated branches, each terminating in a foliate candle socket, in the form of a leaf cluster, are set above flat foliate drip-pans. The candelabrum is fully marked on the base and on each branch. The front panel of the base is hand-engraved with an inscription of who the candelabrum was presented to and by whom.


630 mm
230 mm
220 mm
3565.02 g


The candelabrum was designed by Robert Garrard II or in the workshop of Robert Garrard II. It was made by Robert Garrard II (1793-1881) one of the leading producers of elaborate presentation silver in England in the mid-nineteenth century.

Robert Garrard II was born in 1793, the son of Robert Garrard I, a partner in the prominent firm of London silversmiths, Wakelin and Company. Robert was apprenticed to his father in 1809 and after his father's death in 1818 Robert and his two brothers, James and Sebastian, inherited the greater part of the business including the shop in Panton Street, London, and leasehold premises in Haymarket. Although only twenty-five years of age, Robert immediately took command of the firm which he ultimately controlled until his death on 26 September 1881. Garrards succeeded Rundell Bridge and Rundell as Royal goldsmiths in 1830 and became the official Crown jewellers in 1843. The firm set up a large design studio modelled on that developed by Rundell Bride and Rundell and employed several well-known painters and sculptures including Edmund Cotterill. Garrard's royal commissions ranged from Waterman's badges to table-centres designed by the Prince Consort. The firm were patronised by other crowned heads including the Czar of Russia.

Nevertheless, much of Garrard's work was derived from ordinary day-to-day trade in silver ware for the dinner table such as tureens and dishes. These were showy but too stolid to be called vulgar. However, if Garrards made their fortune from useful ware, they derived their reputation from objects which were both fanciful and useless. With Hunt and Roskell, they were the leading purveyors of presentation silver including racing cups for Ascot and Doncaster, and the America's Cup.

Margaret Simpson
Garrard II, Robert 1855


The candelabrum was presented to Sir Charles Cowper (1807-1875) from the Sydney Railway Company in 1855. Sir Charles Cowper was born in 1807 in England and arrived in Australia in 1809 with his father, William Cowper who was appointed assistant chaplain. Educated privately, Charles Cowper acquired much land in New South Wales around Goulburn and Camden and became a member of the Legislative Council in 1843.

In 1848, Cowper was chairman of the select committee that reported in favour of railways for New South Wales. The following year he was elected to the board of the newly formed Sydney Tramway and Railway Co., became its chairman and was appointed manager at £600 a year. His dual role provoked strong criticism and in January 1850 he had to resign from the board in order to retain the managership. Three weeks later he resigned from the Legislative Council and gave his full time to the company. Conflicts were common between him and the board to which he was restored late in 1850. Disputes became common and money ran out because investors lacked confidence in the project; the government had guaranteed interest on money invested but the necessary approval from Britain did not come until mid-1851. Cowper's salary was reduced to £400 and the chief engineer resigned.

The gold discoveries raised the costs of labour, land and materials so much that at Cowper's prompting, the company asked the government for a loan of £150,000 to complete the line from Sydney to Parramatta. In return for the loan the government appointed three members of the board; when the auditor-general S. Merewether became president, Cowper resigned as a director. He had convinced himself the government would have to take over the railway and returned to politics to plead the case in the council. In 1854 he presided over the select committee that advised the government to make itself responsible for the railway project, which it did in 1855.
Sydney Railway Company 1855
Cowper, Sir Charles


Purchased 2003
14 November, 2003

Cite this Object

Candelabrum presented to Sir Charles Cowper by the Sydney Railway Company 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Candelabrum presented to Sir Charles Cowper by the Sydney Railway Company |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Locomotive No. 1 at the Powerhouse Museum.
Know more about this object?
Have a question about this object?