Smith & Singer

The 1886 South Australian Coursing Club Waterloo Cup

July 10, 2014

Arguably one of the biggest and most anticipated Australian sporting events at the time, the South Australian Coursing Club’s Waterloo Cup attracted spectators from across the country, holding enormous significance to South Australia’s social and sporting calendar.

In 1886 the winner of the South Australian Coursing Club’s principal greyhound race was awarded a trophy donated by the club’s president, Robert Barr Smith, a prominent Adelaide businessman and philanthropist.  A keen sportsman, Barr Smith’s own dog was defeated in the 1886 Waterloo Cup.

Consigned from The Estate of the Late Dr Jan Altmann, the 1886 South Australian Coursing Club Waterloo Cup (circa 1882-1883) is an excellent example of Australian silversmithing.  It was made by one of Australia’s most highly regarded colonial silversmiths, Henry Steiner, who trained in Germany and came to Adelaide during the gold rush in 1858.  The Cup is simple in its design, bearing none of the usual decorative engravings typical of Victorian silver during that time.  Other trophies from the time commonly featured Aborigines and native flora and fauna. Local media noted the unique design and size of the 45oz trophy, with The South Australian Weekly Chronicle describing it as ‘massive though of chaste proportions’ on 1 May 1886.  The Waterloo Cup has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra as a significant piece of early colonial silversmithing.

John and Jan Altmann were avid collectors of Australian Silver.  Through the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s the majority of The John and Jan Altmann Collection of Australian Silver was donated to the National Gallery of Victoria and transformed the gallery’s holdings in this area.  The Waterloo Cup was retained as part of their personal collection.

Although the Cup bears the mark of Henry Steiner, it was retailed by August Ludwig Brunkhorst, another well-known Adelaide German silversmith and former employee of Steiner.  Ludwig Brunkhorst took over Steiner’s business in 1844 when Steiner returned to Germany.

On 29 July 2014 the Cup will be offered to the market by Sotheby’s Australia at its Fine Asian, Australian & European Arts & Design sale with an estimate of $15,000-20,000, lot 33.

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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium and prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.


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