Mildura Weekly : Friday May 1 2015 Vol 9 No 25
14 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2015 A UNIQUE Dame Nellie Melba collectible with links to the Hammerton family of Mildura has been bought at auction by the State Gov- ernment and donated to the Melbourne Museum. The work of art, a pure gold paperweight featuring Australiana in various forms, was crafted by Hammerton and Sons Jewellers of Ryrie Street, Geelong, and present- ed to Dame Nellie in appre- ciation of her headlining a Geelong hospital fund-raiser in 1922. The paperweight was among 162 items from the Dame Nellie collection to go under the hammer at So- theby’s auction house in Mel- bourne. The auction was expected to raise around $750,000, but the total came in at just under $2 million. The gold paperweight was among the items to far exceed sale expectations. Val- ued at between $40,000 and $50,000, it was bought for $134,000 under instructions from Federal Attorney-Gen- eral and Arts Minister Senator George Brandis, using money from the National Heritage Cultural Account. Other items included a century-old diamond-set Cartier desk clock, valued at $25,000 but which sold for $244,000, a Cartier evening bag that sold for more than 10 times its predicted value of $3000, and an Arthur Streeton painting valued at $50,000, but which went for just under $190,000. Mildura jeweller Ryan Hammerton, 37, the 5th generation to continue the family jewellery tradition, said he was contacted by the Museum in the lead-up to the auction, and later inspected the paperweight during a visit to Melbourne. “It’s quite a piece,” he said. “It was created by my great-grandfather in 1922 on request from Geelong City Council, as a gift for Dame Nellie.” The So- therby’s auc- tion booklet described the ‘important’ work that de- picted Austra- lian flora and fauna, with the inscription ‘Presented to Dame Nellie Melba, OBE by the citizens of Geelong.’ The presentation was made after a Dame Nellie fund-raiser for the Kitchener Memorial Hospital. The master craftsman re- sponsible, Ryan’s great-grand- father John, inscribed the pa- perweight with the Geelong coat of arms, and elaborately decorated it with a boomer- ang, gum tree, kookaburra, kangaroo and wallaby. A nightingale supports a dia- mond set star pendant with its beak. The rear has a M (for Melba) stamp, with the Ham- merton trademark. The piece was crafted with the help of a photograph de- picting a bush scene on the It’s 93 years old, an Australiana piece crafted with gold and diamonds, an exquisite work of art that was cherished by the most famous Australian operatic soprano of all time. The work of art has Mildura links, and now... Dame Nellie piece goes to museum Barwon River. Geelong City Council featured the night- ingale because it was ‘the queen of song.’ The boomer- ang, kangaroo, kookaburra and wallaby were included because they were known to be favourites of Dame Nellie. Ryan said yesterday the unique work of art was cre- ated using several different techniques, with a lot of it hand-finished, and would have taken “dozens and dozens” of hours of intri- cate work. “It’s quite a heavy piece for its size,” he said. “Probably around half a kilo. The base is an inch thick, and solid gold.” Ryan said he and other descendants of John Ham- merton were impressed with the final selling price, and was later told by Sotherby’s that there was fierce rivalry between two undisclosed bidders. “The Hammerton family did show an interest in be- ing involved in the bidding process,” he said. “But after it became obvious that it was going to go well into six fig- ures, we didn’t pursue it.” Ryan said he had been informed that the Dame Nellie paperweight, and sev- eral other pieces of Nellie memorabilia bought at auc- tion, would go on display at the Melbourne Museum later this year, probably around October. He said the ex- tended Hammerton family, including those in Mildura, would be among the first to see the unique collection. Sotheby’s Australia CEO Geoffrey Smith was quoted after the auction as saying that despite the paperweight fetching three times the ex- pected price, Australia “got a bargain.” “It’s an incredibly unique object and incredibly impor- tant for Australia,” he said. “It’s the most wonderful item of Australian craftsmanship and iconography, with an ex- traordinary history.” The Museum said that when the paperweight first arrived at the auction house, it was listed as a sculpture, until researchers read a news- paper story about the prize piece. Bidding for most works in the Nellie collection was said to be “spirited” among some of the 400 attendees, plus a number of interna- tional phone bidders. Some works were sold overseas. The Australian government has legislation to prevent significant items of national history from disappearing offshore. • FOOTNOTE: Geelong’s John Hammerton was a sec- ond generation Hammer- ton jeweller, continuing the tradition set by his father, who migrated from Eng- land to set up shop in 1879. Hammertons Jewellers Mil- dura opened for business in 1916, two years after family members from Geelong vis- ited the river port. email@example.com A Moment in Time By Alan Erskine A Moment • HOW GREAT THOU ART: The Hammerton- made gold paperweight, RIGHT, gifted to Dame Nellie Melba, BELOW, showed craftmanship at its best, says 5th generation jeweller Ryan Hammerton. The unique piece goes on display at the Melbourne Museum in October. * Terms and conditions apply. Offer is based on signing a 12 month lease, moving in by 30 June 2015. If a six month lease is signed during the same time period, then the offer will be halved. This offer is not available in conjunction with any other offers. MURRAY RIVER GARDENS 344 San Mateo Avenue Ph: 5022 8011 www.gardenvillages.com.au/promo Beat the winter chill and enjoy the cosy community at Murray River Gardens. Move in by 30th June 2015 and receive up to $1,000 off your rent* . Contact our Village Manager for more details.
Friday April 24 2015 Vol 9 No 24
Friday May 8 2015 Vol 9 No 26