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Australia and its goldfields

Date: 1855
Dimensions:
Overall: 197 x 129 x 20 mm, 0.35 kg
Medium: Ink on paper, pencil, gilt, cloth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00009276
Place Manufactured:London

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    Description
    This book provides accounts of life in the Australian colony and specifically on the Australian gold fields. It features a portrait of the author E H Hargarves on the cover. Hargraves was a key figure in the Australian gold rush and claimed to be the first to discover the precious metal. This book records details of the Australian gold diggings, land policy and theories on mining gold. Hargraves wrote this book while he was in England during 1853-54.
    SignificanceThis is a rare first edition copy of Hargraves only published book that is still in its original cloth cover. It offers an insightful account into the early Australian colony and the gold diggings. It highlights the role of Edward Hargraves in the discovery of gold in Australia.
    HistoryGold was found in New South Wales as early as 1823 yet authorities suppressed the fact until 1851, fearing that a gold rush would damage the fledgling wool growing economy. By June 1851 their worst fears were realized as a thousand people left farms and towns for the diggings at Bathurst. In many ways this gold rush echoed the California experience of 1849 and brought people and wealth to the colony, dramatically changing the society and environment.

    Edward Hargraves was actively involved in promoting the discovery of gold in New South Wales in 1851. Much of the notoriety surrounding him stems from his self-promotion. Hargraves frequently wrote letters to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and published a book about his discovery of gold. He made a fortune by claiming to be the first person to discover the metal in Australia.

    Although Hargraves prospected near Bathurst with partners William Tom and John Lister, he ignored their contribution when he announced the location of the first payable goldfields at Ophir in May 1851. He publicised the 'discovery' as his own by exhibiting granular gold and a two-ounce nugget, probably made from granular gold found by his partners. Within a month there were one thousand people digging at Ophir.

    The gold rush that followed tripled Australia's population in just 10 years. Miners from Britain, Europe, America and China mixed in harsh conditions on the diggings. This produced great changes to Australian beliefs, politics, economics and technology. Most of the gold was exhausted in Victoria and New South Wales by 1861 but the impact of the gold rush continued to be felt 150 years later.




    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Australia and its goldfields

    Web title: Australia and its gold fields

    Related People
    Publisher: H Ingram & Co

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