A piece of silverware more than a century old has been returned to its rightful owner after spending 40-odd years on the mantelpiece of someone else’s home.

Dandaragan farmer Brett Rose made it his mission to track down the family it belonged to, from his home in WA’s Wheatbelt, after he was given the trophy by his mother who was doing a spring clean.

“We have a little old farmhouse that we used to rent out to people,” he said. 

“One day when the tenants had left, my mum was cleaning it up and she found this old cup in the rubbish dump.

“She thought well it’s too good to throw away, it’s a silver cup.”

The cup has sat on a mantelpiece alongside all her family silver ever since, regularly polished.

silver trophy with some wear and tear

The trophy for best milking cow is 112 years old.(

Supplied: Brett Rose


Controversial win

Without internet when it was first found, it was difficult to find out any information about the recipient.

It was awarded to a J. Darbyshire in 1909 for the highest yielding butterfat dairy cow at the Numurkah Show, some 3,400 kilometres away in regional Victoria.

“I hadn’t heard of Numurkah or the Numurkah Show but thought let’s find out who it belongs to,” Mr Rose said.

After contacting the local paper that reached out to the community for information, a historian started digging for information and found Fiona Rafferty — a living relative of J. Darbyshire.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ms Rafferty said.

old photo of man in military uniform

The cup’s original owner, Jack Darbyshire, served in World War I.(

Supplied: Fiona Rafferty


Jack Darbyshire was her great uncle, a young dairy farmer living in Numurkah at the time.

Not only did he take out the award for the best milking cow at the 1909 Numurkah Show but also won the award for best cow in the whole show, which caused quite a stir.

“There was an uproar,” Ms Rafferty recalls the family story.

“Firstly because he was only 15 when he won it, and they didn’t think it was fair, and also no-one was allowed to win two cups.”

One of the awards was stripped from him but he was able to keep the silver cup.

man on horse in military outfit

Jack Darbyshire died at the age of 21.(

Supplied: Fiona Rafferty


Jack went off to serve in World War I where he was killed by a sniper in Belgium at the age of 21.

“I love military history,” Mr Rose said.

Surprisingly, Jack’s family were closer than he thought, only a two-and-a-half-hour drive away in Mandurah, just south of Perth.

From regional Victoria to WA

The cup has now been returned in what was an emotional day for Ms Rafferty’s mother, Margaret.

“Mum was thrilled to bits. She feels it’s part of her family that’s now back home,” she said.

“She can remember seeing it in her grandparents’ home when she was about 10 years old.”

Ms Rafferty said it was the happiest he had seen her mum in a long time.

“We were so grateful that someone like Brett felt that the cup was worthy of trying to find who it belong to so it could come home,” she said.

“A lot of people would just discard it.”

Posted , updated 

A dairy farmer’s trophy from 1909 finds its way home
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