An early Australian mourning brooch, Gregory Street

Vol 42 no 3, August 2020
Article from Vol 42 no 3, August 2020

An early Australian mourning brooch, Gregory Street


A gold mourning brooch to commemorate the passing of John Hillas in 1847 at Bannaby (or Bunnaby) near Taralga in southern tablelands of NSW is typical of the early Victorian era and many similar pieces come up for sale today (plates 1-2)1. Black enamel surrounds a central glass-covered locket that most likely would have originally contained a lock of hair from the deceased. This is one of the earliest dated examples of jewellery worn in Australia. John Hillas was a farmer and grazier who died, aged 50, on 21 January 1847.

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The Australiana Society acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples – the First Australians – as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.