Presentation cup, 'Brookong Corinthian Cup', sterling silver, design attributed to Frederick Woodhouse Snr, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, production attributed to Edward Fischer, Geelong, Victoria, Australia, retailed by Walsh Bros, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1881
Horse racing was the premier sport in colonial Australia. Annual race meetings were highlights on the social calendar from large cities to small country towns. Generally until the 1860s, winners were awarded prize money and occasionally silver trophies made in England. In the affluent gold-rush Australia of the 1870s and 1880s however, a substantial number of locally made, spectacular gold and silver cups was commissioned by racing clubs (they were often gifts of the stewards) to increase the prestige of their races. These trophies were presented to owners of winning horses. They were ordered from leading silver retailers who collaborated with highly skilled immigrant silversmiths mostly from Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide. Gold and silver cups made by Vienna-born and trained Edward Fischer (1828-1904) in Geelong, Victoria, the maker of this cup, were among the finest. Today, only a small number of these racing trophies survive as most were melted down particularly in the Depression of the 1890s.
The sterling silver Brookong Corinthian Cup commemorates a meeting held at Urana, a small country town in New South Wales, on 8 April 1881. The Brookong Corinthian Cup race was the main event of the program which consisted of six races. The cup was a gift of William Halliday, president of the Urana Race Club and owner of 'Brookong' station. It was presented to T & M Quinn, the owners of horse 'GG Student'.
Stamped with the mark of Walsh Bros, its retailer, this cup was almost certainly made in the workshop of Edward Fischer in Geelong. It was probably designed, at least in part, by the noted animal painter Frederick Woodhouse Snr (1820-1909). Woodhouse provided many designs for Fischer's cups and some motifs on the Brookong Cup, for example the medallions on the neck, are characteristic of Woodhouse's designs. Finely designed and made, the Brookong Corinthian Cup was one of the last great silver cups made in colonial Australia. Walsh Bros ceased trading in 1881, and then in 1890 Edward Fischer sold the business he had founded in about 1855, to Harry Page, his foreman. The era of elaborate sporting trophies was drawing to a close.
For further information about the cup see:
K Cavill, 'The Brookong Corinthian Cup, 1881: A country race meeting of yesteryear', The Australian Antique Collector, no 53, 1997, p102-103.
The cup or at least some details were probably designed by Frederick Woodhouse Snr in Melbourne. Although not marked by Fischer, the cup was almost certainly made in the workshop of Edward Fischer in Geelong, located at the time at Kirk Place, in about 1881.
The sterling silver Brookong Corinthian Cup commemorates a meeting held at Urana, a small country town in New South Wales, on 8 April 1881. The Brookong Corinthian Cup race was the main event of the program which consisted of six races. The cup was a gift of William Halliday, president of the Urana Race Club and owner of 'Brookong' station. It was presented to T. & M. Quinn, the owners of horse 'G. G. Student'. The cup is believed to have remained in the hands of descendants until it was sold by James R. Lawsons (Sydney) in 1982 to the donor.