Presentation cup, 'The Oaks Trophy, 1928 Aerial Derby', silver / wood, awarded to Margaret Reardon, retailed by William Kerr, made by W J Sanders, Sydney, Australia, c1928
The Aero Club was formed in 1926 as a social flying club. Its members were men, mainly wealthy ex-World War I pilots, but gradually women were admitted. In 1928 the Aero Club organised The Oaks Race, an air race over a distance of 16km, open to all women members. Three women competed for the trophy, which was won by Miss Margaret Reardon.
This silver trophy comes from the workshop of William Kerr, and bears the firm's standard mark: W. KERR. Kerr was a leading watchmaker, jeweller and silversmith in Sydney in the last quarter of the 19th century. Born in Northern Ireland, Kerr came to the colony of New South Wales with his family as a child on board the New York Packet in 1841. Trained as a watchmaker, he established a small jewellery business with his two older brothers in Palmer Street, Sydney about 1857. In 1863, following the death of his brothers, William Kerr set up a business at 68 William Street in partnership with Frederick Morris. Between 1864 and 1875, he worked for Hardy Bros before establishing his first shop at 574 George Street, opposite St Andrew's Cathedral. In 1882, Kerr opened a second shop in King Street and in 1883, his principal business was relocated to 544 George Street, Sydney opposite the Town Hall. William Kerr obtained many important commissions for commemorative items, often from the Sydney City Council.
The trophy was retailed from the firm when it was managed by William's three sons, William, Walter and Harry, who carried on the business after their father's death in 1896. Kerr's sons continued to use the W. KERR maker's mark until the business finally closed in 1938. From about 1915 however, they commissioned presentation silver from W J Sanders who can be attributed as the actual maker of this piece.
This trophy commemorates the achievement of women aviators in Australia, whose story often escapes available histories of Australian aviation.
Hawkins, John Bernard, 'Australian Silver 1800-1900', National Trust of Australia (NSW), 1973, p48
Parnell, N M, 'The 1928 Sydney Aerial Derby', in Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, Vol 16 No 6, Jan-Feb, 1976, p79-82
Rumsey, Ian, 'Guide to the Later Works of William Kerr and J. M. Wendt', in Australian Society Newsletter, 1980/3, p-22-23