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tline3open  William Kerr, Silversmith, Sydney, Australia

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Author Topic:   William Kerr, Silversmith, Sydney, Australia
Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
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iconnumber posted 09-08-2005 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

William Kerr
Sydney, Australia

Powerhouse Museum collection

Trained as a watchmaker, about 1857 he established a small jewelry business with his two older brothers on Palmer Street, Sydney, Australia. In 1863, following the death of his brothers, William Kerr went into a partnership with Frederick Morris at 68 William Street, Sydney, Australia. Between 1864 and 1875, he worked for Hardy Bros before establishing his first shop at 574 George Street, opposite St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney. In 1882, Kerr opened a second shop on King Street and in 1883, his principal business was relocated to 544 George Street, Sydney opposite the Town Hall.

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Ulysses Dietz

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iconnumber posted 09-17-2005 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know what to say, other than I love this piece and wish I could go to Australia and look at all the silver in all the museums. My family would kill me. Australia is like a distant planet for most of us, familiar yet far away. Thanks for this inspiring object.

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Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 01-20-2017 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Presentation trowel, silver, gold, ivory, used by Lizzie Henrietta Harris in laying the foundation stone of the Great Hall of Sydney Town Hall, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1883, made by William Kerr, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1883


This trowel was used in laying the foundation stone of the Great Hall of Sydney Town Hall on 13 November 1883.

It relates to the history of a prominent Sydney family. Lizzie Henrietta Harris, to whom the trowel was presented by aldermen of the city, was wife of John Harris, Mayor of Sydney. Their daughter Mary Ann was herself Mayoress of Sydney in 1888 and 1889, during the five terms in which her father was Mayor.

It was made in the workshop of William Kerr (1838-1896), a leading watchmaker, jeweller and silversmith in Sydney in late 19th century. Today, Kerr is mostly remembered for his distinctive silver trophies, three of them receiving an award at Australia's first International Exhibition which took place in Sydney in 1879. Kerr's work was commended for 'tasteful design' and 'careful workmanship'.

William Kerr was born in Northern Ireland and came to Australia on board of the 'New York Packet' with his family in 1841. Kerr obtained many important commissions for presentation pieces, like this trowel, often from the Sydney City Council. Recognising the importance of sporting life in Australia, Kerr also sponsored clubs which gave him a steady stream of orders. He used Australian motifs, mostly plants and animals, in his distinctive, finely worked pieces.

The striking design and execution as well as the original condition of the trowel, which is applied with Australian flowers crafted in gold, make it an outstanding item of Australian metalwork of the period. It is the only example of its kind known to have been made and survived.

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