Brass disk salvaged from a sunken steamship and made into a souvenir by Samuel Mason Ltd., a manufacturer of metal products. The inscription on the front explains the circumstances: "Cut from the Pump Rod of the S.S. Sirius, the first passenger steamer to Cross the Atlantic. She left Cork on the 3rd and reached New York on the 22nd of April 1838. On June 1847 she was lost and after lying for 51 years was salvaged and her metal work purchased by Masons B'ham who presented this souvenir." The general information on the inscription is correct though two of the dates are slightly different in actuality. The back is stamped "19 Masons."
The S.S. Sirius was the first ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean entirely under steam power in a celebrated event that was an unofficial race to claim that achievement. From 1837, the ship made regular runs between Cork, Ireland, and London, England, by the St. George Steam Packet Company. Early in 1838, the British and American Steam Navigation Company chartered it for a trip to New York from Cork on April 2. A considerably larger steamship, the Great Western, was scheduled to leave for New York from London five days later. Under the command of Captain Richard Roberts, and with about 40 affluent passengers aboard, the ship left Cork on April 4 and arrived in New York on the 22nd to great fanfare. Supposedly, to accomplish this feat the crew not only had to burn all the coal they had brought but wood furniture and a spare mast. The Great Western arrived 18 hours later. Roberts was honored by the cities of Cork and London. Roberts and his crew were lost while making a transatlantic voyage in another ship in 1841. The S.S. Sirius made only one other crossing to New York before returning to its prior route on the Irish Sea. It sank near Ballycotton, Ireland, in January 1847. The 150th anniversary of the sailing of the Sirius was commemorated in 1988 with a re-enactment of the departure in Passage West, a town on the Cork Harbour.
Samuel Mason Ltd. was founded in Birmingham, England, as Mason and Lawley. The firm started as makers of balance cocks for clock movements, and later specialized in bar equipment. It was taken over by Gaskell and Chambers around 1925 though the brand name was retained.
Callcut, Vin. "Marks M-R." Old Copper. 2002-2012. http://www.oldcopper.org/Marks%20M-R.htm (23 March 2012).
"Places of Interest: Sirius Shaft." 2011. Passage West Monkstown. http://www.passagewestmonkstown.ie/sirius-shaft.asp (23 March 2012).
"S.S. Sirius (1837)." Wikipedia. 12 March 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Sirius_(1837) (23 March 2012).