Important Early Australian Gold & Topaz Bangle by D. Mackay, Brisbane, circa 1900. The hinged bangle of graduating triple bar design and set with a topaz of estimated weight 22.5 carats. 18ct yellow gold. Inscribed J P King, 1.8.12. Hallmarked DM&CO.
Provenance: This bangle has been held for four generations by the King family, who were originally from Charters Towers in North Queensland.
Two sisters recently contacted us for advice on jewellery that had been passed down through their family. The collection, although not large, had some beautiful pieces and included a striking gold and white stone bangle. The nature of the hallmarks and the style of manufacture indicated that the bangle was Australian and quite early. Family history had it that the stone was topaz and that was confirmed by our gemmologist. The topaz has visible natural inclusions (Goethite) and is most likely to have come from Mt. Surprise in Northern Queensland.
Although signed DM&CO, the mark was not recorded in the normal references. It was the State Library of QLD that provided the information necessary to correctly identify the maker as D.Mackay & CO, Brisbane. (Reference attached)
It is rare to see jewellery made in Queensland from the early 1900’s and even rarer to see such a significant piece. David Mackay, a watchmaker, emigrated to Brisbane and established his business in Queen Street in 1884. In 1890 a branch was opened in Cairns, presumably to cater for the needs of the gold miners in the far north. By 1902 the business was retailing in Brisbane, Cairns & Gladstone and by 1945 branches were established in Innisfail, Toowoomba & Warwick. They were manufacturing jewellers and retailers.
The bangle has an etched mark J P K for Joseph Patrick King. Born in Galway, Ireland in 1889, Joseph was a Railway Inspector, and had worked for the railway from 1906 to 1942. He married Eugenia Hillson in Cooktown 1912. They had four children, Noel, Yula, Eunice and Averil.
Sadly, at just 53 Joseph King died of arsenic poisoning in 1942. It was common practice for railway sleepers to be treated with arsenic to protect them from dry rot and termites
As a young woman, Eunice King (1920-1978) was a governess in the Mckinlay district in Western Queensland. In 1943 Eunice married William Donald McKay.
Eunice is pictured wearing the Mackay bangle at her wedding. She and William had two children, a daughter Marjorie and a son Bill.
(It is an interesting and complete coincidence that the maker of of the bangle was Mackay and the owner of the bangle was a McKay, same in pronunciation if not in spelling)
Marjorie McKay married Bruce Charlton in 1963 and as her mother before her, wore the Mackay bangle at her own wedding.
We are very pleased to say that the Mackay bangle has been purchased by the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, and will be displayed as part of their collection of historic Queensland jewellery. It was important to the family that the bangle remained in Queensland and they are thrilled that they will always know where it is and can even visit from time to time.
SEDGWICKS are happy to give qualified advice on Estate Dispersal, and to provide valuations for such purposes. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Ref: The Queensland Police Gazette, 1904 'C. I. BRANCH, BRISBANE.-Stolen from a jeweller's shop at Queen Street, Brisbane, between 10.30 p.m. 30th ultimo and 8 a.m. 1st instant, the property of D. McKay and Company, Brisbane, seventeen 9-carat gold plain hand rings, with " DM&CO" stamped inside ; two 15-carat gold band rings, each set with a garnet in claw setting ; one lady's 15-carat gold dress ring, set with three diamonds and two rubies ; two 18-carat gold gem lady's dress rings, set with three sapphires and two diamonds ; one 15-carat gold ring, set with three diamonds and two rubies ; five Mexican silver alberts ; and one set of gold studs with dumb-bell links, with heart attached : value, £20. Identifiable.-0. 397. 6th February, 1904.'
Resource: Australian Jewellers, Gold & Silversmiths, Makers & Marks. Kenneth Cavill, Graham Cocks, Jack Grace