Presentation trophy, silver, timber, presented by Dunlop Tyre Co. to 'around Australia cyclist' Donald Mackay in 1900, made by [Edward Fischer and Sons, Melbourne], Australia, 1900
In 1900 Donald Mackay, became the third person to cycle around the continent setting a new' around Australia cycling record' of 240 days 7 hours and 30 minutes. Mackay pedaled his Dux bicycle, now in the Museum's collection, north through Queensland, across the Northern Territory, down the west coast of the continent, across the Nullarbor Plain, then up the eastern coast. This ride was the last of a series of long distance cycling trips in Australia between 1897 and 1900 to prove the suitability and utility of the bicycle as a means of rural and outback transport.
After the trip Mackay referred to his Dux bicycle as the "best little wheel I ever rode" and "although I humped it over rocks, through great swamps, and crashed into stumps and logs on a thousand occasions it stood up every time and never needed the slightest repair". The linking of bicycle advertising to record performances and the endorsement of bicycle tyres and peripheral items was common. One writer at the time in the 'Austral Wheel' noted wryly that: 'When a champion pulls down a record the credit of his victory is claimed by the builder of the his machine, the maker of his tyres, the patentees of his saddle, and the manufacturer of his chain. Then the oil with which the chain was lubricated, the tow-clips which kept his feet on the pedals, the shoes he wore, the training oil used by him, the soap he patronised, the pills which set his liver right, all have a share in the victory. The man himself is little else but a pedaling advertisement.'
The endurance rides of Australian bush cyclists, particularly the overlanders, were likewise exploited. Several early riders commenced journeys without fanfare or official acknowledgment. Afterwards the cycle and tyre manufacturers all received unexpected but valuable publicity. The reputation of the German bicycle, the Electra, was immeasurably enhanced in Australia after it was found that Jerome Murif rode one in the first Adelaide to Darwin crossing in 1897. Similarly William Virgin helped the Dux Cycle Company after his successful first ride from Perth to Brisbane on one of their bicycles in 1897.
The tyre and cycle companies sought out proven overland riders and supported them with equipment and administrative aid for subsequent efforts. However, unproven riders like Mackay, were told that official endorsement and reimbursement would come only if they were successful. The firms were anxious to protect themselves against adverse publicity should the ride fail. The long distance overland rides offered particularly valuable advertising potential, as opposed to events in which racing bicycles were used. This was because in nearly all overland rides, cyclists used the standard roadster and touring models most commonly bought by the general cycling public.
Assistant Curator, Transport
Designer not known.
The presentation trophy is attributed to the firm of Edward Fischer and Sons who were active in Melbourne from 1890 or 1895 to 1916. Their office was at 190 Collins Street. The company was established by Edward Francis Gunter Fischer who had been born in Austria in 1828 and by 1857 was one of Australia's key colonial silversmiths working in Geelong, Victoria. When Fischer retired, the business was moved to Melbourne in either 1890 or 1895 and continued by his sons, Harry Caspar and Edward Robert.
The trophy was made in 1900.
By June 1900 it was recorded in 'The Australian Cyclist Tourist and Traveller' that Donald Mackay of the Sydney Club had been presented with a 26-guinea cup by the Dunlop Tyre Company in recognition of his ride around Australia. It was noted that Mackay undertook the ride for the love of it and at his own expense which was apparently rare amongst long distance cyclists both in England and Australia at the time as all received emoluments in one form or another.
The Dunlop company had its origins in Dublin, Ireland. In 1888 Scottish-born John Boyd Dunlop, a prosperous veterinary surgeon in practice in Belfast, Northern Ireland, invented the pneumatic bicycle tyre. A group of Irish businessmen from Dublin, realised the potential of the tyre, and in 1889, together with Mr Dunlop, formed a syndicate to float what was to become the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company.
The first pneumatic bicycle tyres to reach Australia arrived in Melbourne in 1889, brought in by a cycle dealer, Mr Malcolmson. Within two years the Dunlop company was established in Europe and North America. In 1893 the Dublin company opened a branch office and factory in Melbourne at 27-29 Tattersall's Lane, off Londsdale Street, Melbourne. Three years later the first Australian manufactured pneumatic tyres were hand-made by Dunlop for the Thomson steam car. In 1897 the sales and administrative side of the business transferred to two small shops at 247-249 Swanston Street. In 1899 this become the registered head office of the new Australian firm, The Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company of Australasia Limited floated by Richard Garland and John J. Palmer of Toronto, Canada. In 1902 a factory was opened in Montague, Port Melbourne and the consulting engineer for the installation of the machinery was John Monash, later to become Sir John Monash one of Australia's greatest engineers, soldiers and administrators.
The promotion of the use of Dunlop cycle tyres by Mackay in 1900 was of some consequence as in 1905 the firm turned to organise Australia's first long-distance motor car reliability trial from Sydney to Melbourne. Dunlop went on to produce the first Australian-made balloon tyre in 1923 and the first Australian-made aircraft tyre in 1926.
In 1902 Donald Mackay married Amy Isabel Little. They remained childless and Donald died a widower in 1958. The trophies came into the hands of Donald's grand nephew Alex Baldry of 'Wallendoon,' Wallendbeen, who was the grandchild of James Alexander Kenneth Mackay, brother of Donald. James Mackay (1859-1935) was a soldier, author and politician. He had two daughters one of whom married a Mr Baldry. Their son Alex Baldry today lives on James Mackay's property 'Wallendoon' and the trophies have been in the family for some years. They were presented to the Museum in 2001 by Alex Baldry.