A Not So Off-the-Cuff Gift

Margaret Prendergast’s Well Worn Cufflinks

Margaret Prendergast was born on the 2nd of May 1854 in Clonpet, Tipperary in Ireland. Only eighteen years later and half a world away in southern New South Wales, Margaret became the school teacher at St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Holbrook, a town which at that time was known as Germanton.

These silver cufflinks were presented to Margaret as a gift from the school upon her retirement from teaching in 1877, and perhaps following her engagement to a Mr. William Purtell, whom she married in 1879. For women at this time, marriage ended their work in the public service.

Both the front faces and toggle ends of the cufflinks are coins. The profiles of Queen Victoria on the toggles (the smaller coins) have been polished out of existence, likely from the cufflinks being well-loved.

However, the inscription on the circumference of these coins is still visible, ‘VICTORIA D:G: BRITTANIA REGINA F:D:’, an abbreviation of a Latin phrase meaning ‘Victoria, by the Grace of God, Queen of the Britains, Defender of the Faith.’

On the front face of the cufflinks, Margaret’s initials are intricately engraved. And, as a clear acknowledgement of her time as a teacher at St Patrick’s, the dates of her employment appear on the reverse. One details the year ‘1872’ and the other ‘1877’, and both are wonderfully embellished with a wreath of intricate silvery leaves.