When a London-born merchant named John Cohen arrived in Sydney on the Lotus in 1835, he had with him 42 crates of earthenware to establish a retail warehouse in George Street, Sydney.
Nearly 190 years on, one of the items he sold in that warehouse is sitting proudly on display in Holbrook.
The National Museum of Australian Pottery recently acquired the earliest known surviving water filter made "expressly for the Colony".
"An antiques dealer in Sydney had bought it from a lady who was going to a retirement home - he asked us if we could tell who made it," co-director Geoff Ford said.
"We thought it was Australian-made too, but when we saw it in person, we realised it was too good a quality to be made in Australia during that period."
They saw that front of the filter was impressed with the English coat of arms.
"It was made in 1838 by George Robins at his Royal filter-works in London," Mr Ford said.
"Everything else in the museum is Australian-made pottery, but the fact it was made for a merchant in the colony, and is the earliest surviving one we know of, we felt was significant."
The Fords traced back the history of John Cohen and also discovered that the filter's owner was linked to James Bettington.
"She was a direct descendant of the people who set up Oatlands House," Mr Ford said.
"Oatlands is now a suburb of Parramatta, and the original homestead is now being used for weddings.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"The house was built pre-1837 and the filter is 1838, so someone had obviously bought it from John Cohen at his warehouse in George Street and taken it out to the property."
Further confirming their hunch was a notice published in The Sydney Monitor & Commercial Advertiser on October 31, 1838, advertising the sale of filters "manufactured expressly for the Colony".
The Lotus was among the many ships transporting goods to and from Australia.
The 77-centimetre-tall salt-glazed filter used charcoal pushed between perforated plates to purify water.
That particular style went out of fashion in the 1900s, as it was too difficult to replace the charcoal without breaking the plates.
There are just under 2000 pieces on display at the The National Museum of Australian Pottery, which is open from Thursday to Tuesday, 9.30am to 4pm.
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