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Vintage Australian Silver on Display at Werribee Mansion

Tuesday 26 September, 2017

One of the most significant collections of Australian colonial silver will be on display at Werribee Mansion for the next five years.

The Vizard Foundation started acquiring historic Australian silverware about twenty-five years ago, with the aim of highlighting this unique aspect of our national history.

“Many of the important pieces in the collection were overseas and nobody knew about them, so the Foundation went on a mission to repatriate them back to Australia,” says Foundation Chair Andrew Vizard, who handed over the collection to staff at Werribee Mansion this week.

He says colonial silver is a hidden Australian story about the skilled artisans attracted to this very wealthy colony following the gold rush of the 1850’s.

“At first the silversmiths copied classic European designs, but then they began incorporating Australian items into their work, such as Emu eggs, native animals and gum leaves.”

The unusual Roller Polo trophy is a great example of this, with a player in roller skates and a hockey stick on top of an emu egg with silver gum leaf patterns. This was a sport like ice hockey on a dry surface, and was popular around the late 1880’s.

Some of the Vizard collection was sold for charity in 2010, after the closure of the Gold and Treasury Museum of Victoria, but still has many unique and ornate trophies, cups, vases and tea services.

The collection will be displayed in rotation in a restored silver safe inside the mansion, and will be available for viewing from mid-October.

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Sally Nowlan

Parks Victoria media centre