Centenary birthday cake clock

Centenary birthday cake clock
(1934)

Artist/s name
J. W. STEETH &
SON, Melbourne (manufacturer)


Medium
silver, silver gilt, gold, enamel, glass, clock mechanism, ebonised wood
Measurements
24.7 x 17.2 cm diameter
Accession Number
D94-1987
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of the Sidney Myer Fund, Governor, 1987
Gallery Location
Not on display

In 1934, as Melbourne planned to celebrate the centenary of European settlement, the mood was anything but celebratory for many Melburnians. The Great Depression of the 1930s had hit hard, bringing high levels of unemployment – one third of the workforce had lost their jobs – and desperate poverty as evidenced in the growing presence of inner-city slums.

Despite Melbourne’s current state of despair – or perhaps because of it – organisers of the centenary celebrations worked hard to create a positive, festive spirit for Melbourne, even going to the lengths of baking an extraordinary cake! The huge cake weighed 10 tons, was 50 feet high and had a circumference of 300 feet. It was cut into 250,000 pieces that were packed into individual tins and sold for charity. One lucky buyer was then to win the Centenary Birthday Cake Clock, created by JW Steeth & Sons. The clock’s bottom tier represents the historic occasion of John Batman completing his dubious ‘treaty’ with local Aboriginal people on the future site of Melbourne.

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