Sweet Survival

In late 1929, stock markets crashed and the world fell into the Great Depression. By 1932, one in three Australian breadwinners were unemployed. Families queued at soup kitchens or relied on government payments that allowed them to buy only the bare minimum of food. For many poor families, the staple meal was bread and ‘dripping’ […]

Read More…

The Many Faces of Ernest Dunton

As demonstrated by the maker of this clock, Ernest Dunton, and his employer, Morris Blasbalk, to be a watchmaker in the late nineteenth century required more than just the skill of making and fixing clocks. Ernest John Dunton (b. 1878) was born in Wagga Wagga and completed a watchmaker apprenticeship with D. P. Symington in […]

Read More…

Runaway Success

‘Now I can’t fly but I’m telling you, I can run the pants off a Kangaroo.’ These are the beloved lyrics of John Williamson’s song, Old Man Emu, featured here in an original Australian release of the song’s sheet music. John Williamson AM was born into a wheat farming family in 1945. In 1965 Williamson […]

Read More…

Prestigious Dining

Ornate silver soup tureen embellished with petal shapes, scrolls, and floral fittings, photographed on an angle

When it comes to design sensibilities today, I think many would describe this tureen as somewhat gaudy – particularly because any extravagant covered dish for serving soup would be a strange addition to modern dinner tables. However, this style of decorative art was once considered the height of refinement. Emerging from the salons of early […]

Read More…

Royal Expectations

Close up of a silver tankard embellished with leafy design

It is hard to know exactly how William Edwards (1819-1899) must have felt arriving to Melbourne in 1857. At the very least, he must have been slightly more comfortable than the average English traveller at the time. In an arrangement reserved only for noteworthy passengers, he had travelled in the chief cabin of the Blanche […]

Read More…

An Alchemical Ornament

Silver goblet etched with a placid illustration of a refinery

One step removed from the sweltering heat of the forge, smoke billows from a chimney between towering trees. Small figures are at work around the refinery – surveying, shoving, and squatting. Steep slopes of earth disappear into the distance of a spotless sky. This sterling silver goblet was made by William Edwards (1819-1899) and retailed […]

Read More…

From Ostrich to Emu Eggs

In 1866, the Danish-born silversmith Christian Ludwig Qwist sent a silver-mounted emu egg jug and drinking cups, made in his Hunter Street shop in Sydney, to the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne. Qwist arrived in Melbourne in 1853, in the early years of the gold rush. He’d worked as a photographer and silversmith in the boom […]

Read More…