Presentation cup and case, 'Woodstock Challenge Cup', presented by Elizabeth Wood (former actress Essie Jenyns) to the Kennel Club of New South Wales for the best Australian terrier bred in New South Wales, sterling silver / enamelled / parcel-gilt / opal / jade / gaspeite / rock crystal, designed and made by Priora Brothers for W. J. Proud, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1906
This cup, which was retailed by the noted jewellery firm W J Proud, is a rare survivor of the first Federation decade, demonstrating the distinctive style and metalworking skills of Priora Bros, Sydney¬?s premier silversmithing and jewellery firm managed, between 1885 and 1909, by the Italian brothers John, Ernesto and Telesfero (died in 1902) Priora. Unique and unusual in its design and construction, the cup is a wonderful example of Australian Art Nouveau silver.
It is also the only known example of presentation silver celebrating the breeding and creation of an Australian dog, the Australian Terrier, at the time when the newly federated Australia (in 1901) saw a period of intense nationalism. The cup is set with semi-precious stones representing all states (but favouring New South Wales opals) and this linking of all the Australian federated states together in a modern Australian cup for an Australian Terrier reflects the mood of the time.
The trophy cup was presented to the Kennel Club of New South Wales by Elizabeth Wood, former ¬?foremost actress in Australia¬? (W J Holloway, 1886) known as Essie Jenyns, who after retiring early from her illustrious theatrical career, devoted much her time to charity and to breeding the perfect Australian terrier. She had her own kennel 'Woodstock' in Newcastle and encouraged other breeders in the pursuit of excellence by funding this gem-set silver trophy. It was first won at the annual Kennel Club show in November 1906. The press reported: ¬?The Woodstock Challenge Trophy presented by Mrs J. R. Wood of Newcastle for Australian Terriers was on view. It is a cup, massively made of Australian silver adorned with a gem from each of the States and New Zealand, and, it will be interesting for advocates of local production that it is the work of Australian silversmiths under the circumstances the cup was won for the first time appropriately by a dog called Australian Colours¬?. (¬?Illustrated Kennel News¬?, 1907, Christmas Supplement.)
In 1907 the Woods moverd to Scotland. The ¬?Sydney Morning Herald¬? (5 February 1908, p.6) informed : 'The editor of our English contemporary is eulogistic of the little terriers ¬?made in Australia¬?. He says ¬?they fill the want of a small active, game little dog which will stand the heat of a hot Australian summer¬?. The little fellows are certain at no distance in time to take a very firm hold over the English doggy world'.
The development of the breed began in Tasmania about 1820 and the Australian Terrier was shown at a dog show for the first time in 1903 in Melbourne. While Elizabeth Wood successfully introduced her Australiana terriers to England from 1907, the Kennel Club (UK) formally recognized it only in 1933.
Eva Czernis-Ryl, 2011
Reference: J Hawkins, ¬?Essie Jenyns and her Australian terriers¬?, 'Australiana', November 2011, pp 16-19.
E Czernis-Ryl, 'Brilliant. Australian gold and silver 1851-1950', Sydney, 2011, pp 63-6 (ill)
The cup is illustrated in 'The Illustrated Kennel News' (UK) of December 1907 with two pages of text regarding Mrs Wood¬?s Australian Terriers now in England. One page is devoted to pictures, the other to a letter-press of terriers. Photographs are given of Mrs Wood and her terriers to include Woodstock Duke, Woodstock Wahn on the eve of their departure from Sydney in 1907 alonside the 30-pound trophy presented to the Kennel Club of NSW for the best Australian terrier exhibited at its shows. Woodstock Duke and Woodstock Wahn backed by a brewing fortune of Elizabeth's husband John Robert Wood from Newcastle NSW were introduced to the world in 1907 when the family left for Scotland.
The cup was sold at Lawsons (Sydney) auction in 1992 to an unidentified purchaser. It reappeared in 2011 in Tasmania when it was acquired by the antiques dealer John Hawkins.
Elizabeth Esther Ellen Jennings (1864 -1920)
'Essie¬? was born in Brisbane on 5 October 1864, the second child of Charles Jennings, chemist, and his wife Emily, n√©e Morse (Moss). Her father died in 1871 and in 1877 her mother went on the stage as 'Kate Arden' marrying William James Holloway her actor-manager. As Essie Jenyns, Elizabeth had her first speaking role in 1879 at the Theatre Royal, Hobart. In 1884 ¬?Essie¬? visited Europe with her mother and Holloway. She saw Sarah Bernhardt act, watched the foremost French directors instruct students at the Paris Conservatoire, and in London saw the actress, Mary Anderson, in whose roles she was also to excel.
With his own 'Shakespeare Company' ,Holloway opened in Sydney in September 1886, claiming that Essie, who had not acted overseas, had been 'pronounced by eminent critics to be the foremost actress in Australia', she was praised for her 'pleasing' performance and voice in the melodrama; overnight she became the star Holloway had advertised. After fourteen weeks at the Opera House and sixteen at the Criterion in Sydney, she played for twenty weeks at the major theatres in Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane. She excelled in such roles as Rosalind and Portia. One reviewer observed that audiences were so mesmerized by her great beauty that they were unable to judge her acting. Although she showed little original interpretation, smitten admirers claimed that she had 'infinitely more soul' than any contemporary comic actress, and she was a native-born Australian.
At the height of her success on 5 December 1888 Essie married John Robert Wood, a prominent cricketer and the son of a wealthy Newcastle brewer. Holloway had plans for her to try her luck in London but she saw marriage as an excuse to retire from the stage. Her early retirement into respectable and wealthy domesticity made her the heroine of women's magazines. The honeymoon was spent in Europe in part on the yacht ¬?Imogen¬? which was launched in August 1890 from Fleming & Ferguson¬?s Yard on the Clyde, commissioned by Essie¬?s husband John Wood as her wedding present. After a three year voyage around the Mediterranean, the vessel was sold in 1893 and the Woods returned to 'Jesmond House', their magnificent home in Newcastle, New South Wales.
The Woods later lived at Putney Hill, London. Essie died at Killara, Sydney, on 6 August 1920 and was buried by an Anglican minister in the Presbyterian section of the Sandgate (Newcastle) cemetery. She was survived by her husband, son John and daughter Lyal. Her estate was valued at ¬£1,697. She left her presentation copy of Shakespeare (1623) to the National Art Gallery of New South Wales as a gesture to the people of Sydney ¬?for their loyalty to me¬?. In 1922 her remains were disinterred, cremated and buried in Waverley cemetery.
Edited extract from article: J.Hawkins, ¬?Essie Jenyns and her Australian terriers¬?, 'Australiana 'November 2011, pp 16-19.