Gold Prize Medal designed by Harry Stokes, presented to William John Clarke (1831-1897), President of the Victorian Exhibition Commissioners for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition.

William Clarke was born in Tasmania in 1831 to pastoralist and landowner William John Turner Clarke. After schooling in Hobart and England William junior helped manage his father's estates in Tasmania and Victoria. After his father's death in 1874 William junior inherited the family's Victorian properties, making him the largest landowner in Victoria at the time. Politically conservative and public spirited Clarke became socially prominent following his father's death, supporting numerous charities, sporting and philanthropic enterprises and representing Southern Province in the Legislative Council from 1878-1897.

As President of the Melbourne International Exhibition Board of Commissioners, William Clarke was present at the laying of the foundation stone for the new Exhibition Building in February 1879. In the speech he gave on that occasion, Clarke reflected that the prosperous and well-built city that stood before him had not existed when he was born yet now it stood equal to all the foremost cities of the world. Melbourne's wealth, civilisation and greatness were themes which in all of Clarke's addresses during the tenure of the 1880 Exhibition. Clarke's presidency of the Melbourne International Exhibition was deemed a success; he was praised for his conciliatory demeanor, ability to get the commissioners to work together and continuous devotion of his time. In 1882 Clarke was appointed a baronet for his services as president of the Melbourne International Exhibition, and for his prominence as a colonist.

Physical Description

Gold medal featuring the head of Queen Victoria facing left, wearing coronet and veil. The reverse features a wreath enclosing an inscription.

Obverse Description

Veiled head of Queen Victoria left; around, MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION MDCCCLXXX .

Reverse Description

Within wreath, "VITAM / EXCOLVERE / PER ARTES" below wreath in small letters, H.STOKES

Edge Description


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