Summary

Tin Medal, minted by the Kangaroo Office, Melbourne in 1854. The medal was struck with tin from the Ovens River at the 1854 Melbourne Exhibition by Reginald Scaife of the Kangaroo Office. The medal features a view of the 1854 Exhibition Building which had been constructed on the site which would become the Mellbourne Mint in 1872.

W. J. Taylor and his business partners established the Kangaroo Office to take advantage of the explosive economic growth in Australia following the discovery of gold in 1851. They hoped to buy gold at greatly reduced prices from the gold fields and then release it at full value in the form of quarter-ounce, half-ounce, one ounce and two ounce gold coins. However due to the time required to travel between London and Melbourne, once the Kangaroo Office was ready for business in 1854, an increase in the number of British sovereigns, had seen the price of gold rise, and the potential profits for the Kangaroo Office sharply decline. Not deterred, in late 1954 Taylor prepare dies for a series of pattern copper tokens that it was hoped could be produced in Melbourne by the Kangaroo Office for circulation within Australia. It appears that this did not succeed, and in 1855 Taylor began to create shilling and sixpence patterns in silver. However the Kangaroo Office again failed to obtain authority to strike and circulate these silver tokens and in 1857 the Kangaroo Office closed.

The Exhibition opened on 17 December 1854 and ran for 30 days. Around 40,000 people attended - half of Melbourne's population. Melbourne erected its own first exhibition building for the occasion, at the site of the later Royal Mint in William Street. The design was based on that of the Crystal Palace in London, which had hosted the Great Exhibition only three years earlier, in 1851. Melbourne's exhibition building had 200 ornamental windows and was lit by 306 gaslights. The exhibition included a modest 428 exhibits, mainly local industrial and agricultural products. Some of these exhibits went to Paris for the 1855 Exhibition.

Physical Description

A tin medal (38 mm diameter) featuring a view of the front and side of the building with two flags flying, around above, MELBOURNE EXHIBITION; in exergue, 1854 / STRUCK IN THE BUILDING; the artist's name, W, BARKLEY is in small letters at the top left of the exergue. The reverse has the motto, THE HARVEST OF / THY YESTERDAY, / THE SEED CORN OF / THY MORROW; within a froral wreath and below a bunch of corn-ears held together by a ribbon.

Obverse Description

At centre, a view of the front and side of the building with two flags flying, around above, MELBOURNE EXHIBITION; in exergue, 1854 / STRUCK IN THE BUILDING; the artist's name, W, BARCLAY is in small letters at the top left of the exergue.

Reverse Description

At centre within a froral wreath and below a bunch of corn-ears held together by a ribbon the motto, THE HARVEST OF / THY YESTERDAY, / THE SEED CORN OF / THY MORROW;

Edge Description

Plain

Significance

The Exhibition opened on 17 December 1854 and ran for 30 days. Around 40,000 people attended - half of Melbourne's population. The exhibition building, the site of the later Royal Mint in William Street, was based on the design of the Crystal Palace in London, which had hosted the Great Exhibition only three years earlier, in 1851. Melbourne's exhibition building had 200 ornamental windows and was lit by 306 gaslights. The exhibition included a modest 428 exhibits, mainly local industrial and agricultural products. Some of these exhibits went to Paris for the 1855 Exhibition.-Official Catalogue of the Melbourne Exhibition, 1854, in Connection with the Paris Exhibition, 1855. -D. Tout-Smith 18/12/2003.

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