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97/299/1 Inkstand, silver, malachite and emu egg, attributed to Julius Hogarth, retailed by Adolphus Blau, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1870. Click to enlarge.

Inkstand by Adolphus Blau

This presentation emu-egg inkstand of silver, emu eggshell and malachite, was made by Adolphus Blau in Sydney between 1869 and 1870. Silver-mounted dark green (when fresh) emu egg giftware and trophies were first made in Australia in the 1850s. They were inspired by the ostrich eggs made in Europe since the 1500s. Adolphus Blau, a Hungarian-born Sydney silversmith and jeweller, supplied this presentation inkstand to the Congregational church in Pitt Street, Sydney. It was given to J.G. Marwick, a retiring secretary of the church's School Penny Savings Bank, in 1870.

Before gold was discovered in Australia in 1851, presentation silver and sporting trophies were ordered from England. From about 1856, works crafted by newly arrived, highly-skilled European silversmiths began to dominate the booming market. They were proudly displayed in international exhibitions beginning in Paris in 1855.

Immigrant silversmiths often included Aboriginal figures and 'exotic' motifs of Australian flora and fauna in their designs. They also made racing cups of Australian gold, and silver-mounted emu eggshells as gifts for special occasions. These rare and valuable survivors are fitting reminders of Australia's fabulous wealth in the later 19th century.


Object No.


Object Statement

Inkstand, silver, malachite and emu egg, attributed to Julius Hogarth, retailed by Adolphus Blau, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1870

Physical Description

A large silver presentation inkstand with a centrally mounted emu egg which opens to reveal two circular compartments for glass ink bottles with silver covers and finials in the form of an emu and kangaroo, respectively. The egg is topped with a silver emu and is supported by three branches extending from a silver tree-trunk and housing a crouching oxidised silver figure of an Aboriginal man holding a spear and looking at a possum perched on the branch on the left. A circular silver base supports the trunk, two large malachite rocks and native foliage, all of which is positioned on a double rimmed circular base of ebonised wood.


Mounted on the front of the wooden base is an oblong silver plaque with engraved inscription: 'Presented to / Mr. J.G. Marwick / by the Directors of the Pitt St / Congregational Church & School Penny Savings / As a grateful recognition of his valuable services / As Honorary Secretary For Eight Years / 17th May, 1870.'



260 mm


275 mm


150 mm



Retailed by Adolphus Blau (active 1853-1887), a Hungarian merchant who arrived in Sydney on the "Prince of Wales" in 1850. From 1855 he had a business in George Street where he retailed imported and locally made jewellery and silver as well as being a major gold exporter. Blau was the first employer of the noted silversmith Julius Hogarth, who arrived in Sydney from Denmark in 1852. The design and execution of the inkstand is consitent with similar works by Hogarth and can be attributed to him.



This inkstand was presented to John Garrioch Marwick who in 1861 instituted one of Australia's first penny savings banks in connection with the Pitt Street Congregational Sunday School.


Credit Line

Purchased 1997

Acquisition Date

11 November 1997

Cite this Object


Inkstand by Adolphus Blau 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 14 April 2021, <https://ma.as/158063>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/158063 |title=Inkstand by Adolphus Blau |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=14 April 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}