• Panel: The German triumphal arch in Melbourne

    Panel: The German triumphal arch in Melbourne 1901

    Otto BETTMANN

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    Notes

    Otto Bettmann was one of the highly skilled German craftsmen who made a significant impact on architecture and interior design in Melbourne in the late nineteenth century.

    Panel: The German triumphal arch in Melbourne 1901 features the triumphal arch designed by J. A. B. Koch and erected in Collins Street by the German community of Melbourne for the Federation celebrations of 1901.

    Bettmann’s triumphal arch is carved in ivory and mounted on an ebony console inscribed (in German) ‘Dedicated to the architect of the German triumphal arch in Melbourne, Mr J. A. B. Koch, in appreciation, by the subscribers, A.D. 1901.’

  • Arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York, Melbourne, 1901

    Arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York, Melbourne, 1901 (1908)

    Frederick McCUBBIN

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    Notes
  • Centenary birthday cake clock

    Centenary birthday cake clock (1934)

    J. W. STEETH & SON, Melbourne (manufacturer)

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    Notes

    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.

  • Miss Eleanor Hyndman dressed as Mrs Richard Cobham, attending the Pioneers' B all for the Victorian Centenary

    Miss Eleanor Hyndman dressed as Mrs Richard Cobham, attending the Pioneers' B all for the Victorian Centenary (1934)

    A. Frith THOMAS; THOMAS & MORRIS, Balaclava, Melbourne

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    Notes
    This society photograph depicts Miss Eleanor Hyndman, the great granddaughter of Georgiana McCrae. She is dressed in an original colonial dress passed down to her from Georgiana McCrae. Eleanor wore the dress to the Victorian Centenary 1834–1934 Pioneers’ Ball, which was held at the Melbourne Town Hall on 17 October 1934. She is photographed in the family home of Maggie Outhwaite in Toorak.
  • Mrs E. W. Outhwaite dressed as Mrs David Thomas, attending the Pioneers' Ball for the Victorian Centenary

    Mrs E. W. Outhwaite dressed as Mrs David Thomas, attending the Pioneers' Ball for the Victorian Centenary (1934)

    A. Frith THOMAS; THOMAS & MORRIS, Balaclava, Melbourne

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    Notes
    This society photograph depicts Mrs E. W. (Maggie) Outhwaite, the great granddaughter of Georgiana McCrae. She is dressed in an original colonial dress passed down to her from Georgiana McCrae. Maggie wore the dress to the Victorian Centenary 1834–1934 Pioneers’ Ball, which was held at the Melbourne Town Hall on 17 October 1934. She is photographed in her family home in Toorak.

Melbourne

Melbourne’s early milestones

Bearbrass and Batmania– luckily for Melburnians these names were scratched from the list when it was decided in 1837 to officially name the city after the British prime minister of the day, Lord Melbourne.

Lord Melbourne was a close confidant to Queen Victoria. As a gesture of her respect, she presented him with this monumental three-part centerpiece candelabrum made by Garrard & Co., a premier manufacturer of plate in the nineteenth century. The engraved inscription reads: 'Presented to Viscount Melbourne as a mark of regard and esteem by Victoria R. and Albert, February 10, 1840'.9

With its name decided, Melbourne’s next rite of passage was to extricate itself from New South Wales, which it achieved in 1851 when Queen Victoria declared the Port Phillip area to be the colony of Victoria. The same year, Melbourne was turned upside down by the discovery of gold in nearby Ballarat. The great wealth this brought transformed the city and by the 1880s, Melbourne’s extravagance had reached fever pitch.

  • Federation

    In 1901, Australia’s six colonies united to form the nation of Australia and Melbourne became, for a time, the Australian capital and seat of the national government.

    Otto Bettmann’s Panel: The German triumphal arch in Melbourne 1901 features the triumphal arch erected in Collins Street by the German community of Melbourne for the Federation celebrations of 1901. Bettmann’s triumphal arch is carved in ivory and mounted on an ebony console.

    Frederick McCubbin’s Princes Bridge 1908 shows the bridge elaborately decorated as part of the celebration for the opening of the first Federal Parliament in Melbourne's Exhibition Building by the Duke and Duchess of York on 9 May 1901. For the event, Princes Bridge was lined with columns and crowned with a triumphal arch where the mayor greeted the royal couple.

  • Melbourne’s centenary celebrations
    In 1934, as Melbourne planned to celebrate the centenary of European settlement, the mood was anything but celebratory. The Great Depression of the 1930s had hit hard, bringing high levels of unemployment and desperate poverty.

    Despite Melbourne’s state of despair – or perhaps because of it – organisers worked hard to create a festive spirit for Melbourne’s centenary celebrations, even going to the lengths of baking a colossal cake!

    The cake weighed 10 tons, was 50 feet high and had a circumference of 300 feet. It was cut into 250,000 pieces, which were packed into individual tins and sold for charity. One lucky buyer was then to win this Centenary Birthday Cake Clock, created by JW Steeth & Sons.

    Melburnians were also treated to a Pioneers’ Ball, which was held at the Melbourne Town Hall on 17 October 1934. This program accompanied the event, and these hand-coloured photographs by Monteath Dickinson and Thomas A Firth show society ladies dressed in colonial costumes in readiness for the ball.10

Endnotes

  • 9 Christopher Menz, Decorative Arts in the International Collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, 2003.

  • 10 The Art Foundation of Victoria, The First Decade of Collecting, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1988.