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Prize for Lithography at the Melbourne Exhibition, 1854
London: Joseph S. Wyon, 1854. Bronze medal, 64 mm., edge impressed 'Prize Medal 239 E Gilks Lithography', good extremely fine; with tan morocco case of issue, the case a little rubbed. A beautiful rarity: the 1854 prize medal for lithography at the first Melbourne Exhibition, awarded to the important colonial lithographer Edward Gilks, in its original case of issue. Roger Butler suggests that Gilks only first became active in Australia around 1853, and as this medal was awarded in the following year, it obviously dates from the very beginning of his career. Gilks (c. 1822-1886), was one of the more important Australian lithographers, perhaps best known for his separately issued images such as the 'Commissioner's Camp, Castlemaine, in 1852 (Mount Alexander)' (see Roger Butler, Printed 1801-1901, p. 154), or his portraits of Burke and Wills. Gilks also contributed to famous colonial illustrated works such as the Melbourne Album published by Charles Troedel in 1863-4, as well as being one of the team assembled for the wonderful, and undervalued, Prodromus of Frederick McCoy. The principles of lithography were first discovered in the last years of the eighteenth century, but the practice was not introduced to Australia until the efforts of Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, who acquired a press as part of his equipping of the Parramatta observatory in 1822. The format was widely adopted, and lithography became the mainstay of the burgeoning interest in Australian views and portraits. Little surprise, then, that a prize medal for lithography was awarded at the 1854 Exhibition, which was held in conjunction with the French Exposition Universelle of 1855. An impressive series of artists were awarded prizes in Melbourne, but this may have been the only prize for lithography, and may in fact be the only such medal for any type of printed works (a quick census of fellow nominees suggests most of the other prizes were for painters and sculptors, although there was also, for example, a photography prize, given to Robert McClelland). This is an attractive medal in its own right, with the Melbourne Exhibition Building to the obverse, and Brittania being given the fruits of the harvest to the reverse (with the Southern Cross visible in the background).
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-28           Check availability:      Biblio    

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