born Austria 1828; arrived Australia 1853; died 1911
(designed by Fred WOODHOUSE)
1874 Geelong gold cup 1874
gold and ebonised wood
Purchased through the Dorothy McAllister Geelong Gallery
Bequest Fund with the assistance of the Geelong Racing Club, 2018
Edward Fischer was the pre-eminent silversmith in Victoria in the second half of the 19th century, and his Geelong workshop produced gold and silver objects of such outstanding quality they are now regarded as nationally important treasures.
The 1874 Geelong Gold Cup is the earliest of only five remaining cups of the eighteen made by Fischer between 1873 and 1890. Others may have been melted down for their gold. Following the successful running of the first Geelong Cup in 1872, the Geelong Racing Club decided to present the winner of the 1873 race with a gold cup. Edward Fischer was commissioned to make the 1873 cup and again in 1874, for which he turned to a local artist, Frederick Woodhouse (1820–1909), to design the horse ‘rampant’ that would crown the lid. Woodhouse was one of a small number of Victorian artists who specialised in animal painting, especially horses, and was eagerly sought after by racehorse owners to paint portraits of their prized animals.
This exceptionally beautiful and delicately worked gold cup has had an illustrious history. The cup was presented in 1874 to John Tait, the owner of McCallum Mohr, the winner of that year’s race. The cup remained with the Tait family until 1980, and subsequent owners of this remarkable object have included antiques specialist John B Hawkins, and media figures Kerry Packer and Trevor Kennedy. In 1994, industrialist Peter Simon purchased the cup for his wife Ruth to celebrate their 50th or ‘golden’ wedding anniversary, hence the small inscribed plaque on the hardwood base.