Celebrating colonial gold and silver

News | Created 1 Feb 2017

Aronson & Co, Coolgardie brooch c.1896. Gold brooch with mining tools.

An exhibition showcasing rare 19th and 20th Century Australian silver and gold works will be on display at the Museum of the Goldfields from this weekend.

Silver and gold: Unique Australian objects 1830-1910 is a travelling exhibition from the National Gallery of Australia that tells stories of personal, community and professional achievements through both ornate and functional objects.

Museum of the Goldfields Regional Manager Zoe Scott said the exhibition includes 64 exquisite works, including three brooches that were made in Western Australia.

“The items in this exhibition put into context the wealth of the Western Australian goldfields and the impact the gold finds had on the manufacture and design of jewellery,” Ms Scott said.

“It is a wonderful overview of Australian gold and silver jewellery design of the 19th and 20th Centuries.”

Silver and gold features examples of ‘goldfields jewellery’, which incorporate miners’ tools as decorative elements. Goldfields jewellery was highly fashionable at that time. This style of jewellery was typically commissioned by miners during the Australian gold rush period and served as emblems of wealth and success.

The exhibition includes objects made by many of Australia’s most significant early silversmiths who worked in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.

“The Silver and gold exhibition showcases exceptional pieces of Australian gold and silverware from the National Gallery of Australia’s collection – the largest and most comprehensive of this type in the world,” Ms Scott said.

“It is rare for an exhibition this unique and of this value to tour. We are exceptionally lucky to have it here in Kalgoorlie – its only museum display in Western Australia to date.”

Fifty of the works featured in the exhibition are from the National Gallery of Australia’s Houstone collection. John Houstone, a knowledgeable collector and authority on Australian colonial silver, assembled the collection from Australian sources over a 45-year period. The collection was acquired by the National Gallery in 2014.

Silver and gold: Unique Australian objects 1830-1910 will be on display at the Museum of the Goldfields from 4 February – 30 April 2017. Entry to the Museum is by donation.


Media contact
Sharna Craig
Media and Publicity Officer
Western Australian Museum