The National Museum of Australia recently won the Adelaide Hunting Club Cup in 1881, one of the three remaining gold trophies in South Australia in the 19th century. The cup was purchased at Sotheby’s auction on October 25, 2016.
The Adelaide Hunting Club, formerly known as the Adelaide Hounds, was established in 1840, only four years after the first European settlers arrived in South Australia. The club’s annual obstacle race is one of the highlights of the colonial gentleman’s social calendar.
On Saturday, October 1, 1881, a large crowd gathered at Moffettville Racecourse to watch the Adelaide Hunting Club Cup. Roebuck rode by TJ Baker won the race with exciting results. Club President Robert Barr Smith donated the trophy, which was presented by the Governor of South Australia, Sir Anthony Musgrave KCMG, to Roebuck owners Alexander and William Robertson.
The creator of the cup, Henry Steiner, was one of the most famous gold and silversmiths during the Australian colonial period. After arriving in Adelaide from Germany in 1858, he founded his own business on Rundle Street. Steiner drew inspiration from the treasures unearthed in the ancient city of Troy in the late 1870s and early 1880s to design the neoclassical design of this 18ct gold cup.
Feature image: Detail of the manufacturer’s mark on the bottom of the cup “H. STEINER/Adelaide/18.C’ Image: Jason McCarthy, National Museum of Australia