Commemorative shield ‘Victor of the Plague’

Made by Berthold, Henry in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1900.

This shield was presented to George McCredie on 19 October 1900 at a ceremony at the Australia Hotel. The premier, Sir William Lyne, made the presentation on behalf of the citizens of Sydney ‘in recognition of the patriotic and effective manner in which he carried out his duties when in charge of the operations for stamping out the plague’. Mr McCredie, he said, had been ‘accused of disregarding the consideration of the economy, but the emergency precluded due regard being paid to the economy. T...

Summary

Object No.

99/131/1

Physical Description

Commemorative shield, George McCredie 'Victor of the Plague', wood / silver, made by Henry Berthold, Sydney, New South Wales, 1900

Oval shaped shield with a carved wooden frame in a scrolled foliate design. Seven silver plaques are mounted on the outside of the frame and in the top centre is a sculpted head of George McCredie with a ribbon-shaped band of metal underneath. In the middle of the wooden frame is an oval piece of brown fabric with a raised central shield, also made of silver. The central shield has carved silver waratah flowers on each side with a foliate design below and flannel flowers at base. Underneath this are shamrocks, roses and thistles in relief, as well as fern leaves which rise out of them. The ferns encircle the inscription with a pair of cornucopia on either side. On the back of the shield is a carved piece of wood attached by a metal hinge, which enables the shield to stand. A small section of the stand has broken off and accompanies the object in an airtight bag.

Marks

The very centre of the shield reads '1900 / THIS SHIELD / A DIAMOND CRESCENT, AND A GOLD WATCH & CHAIN, / was Presented to / GEORGE MCCREDIE ESQ.R J.P. / BY / SIR WM. J. LYNE, K.C.M.G. / (PREMIER.) / on behalf of the / CITIZENS OF SYDNEY / in recognition of the / PATRIOTIC AND EFFECTIVE MANNER / in which he carried out his / duties, when in charge of the / operations for stamping out / the Plague, / 19th October 1900.'. On the outside of the shield is 'VICTOR-OF THE-PLAGUE' and seven shields (six of which contain text). They read (from left to right) 'JOHN DYKES, J.P. / MAYOR OF VAUCLUSE, President.'; 'EVAN JONES, / Hon. Treas.'; 'SEMPER PARATUS'; 'W.S.LLOYD, / W.H.BRAINWOOD, / Hon.Secs.'; 'ADVANCE AUSTRALIA' and 'HENRY PATESON, J.P. / THOMAS CLARKE, MLA. / HON.HENRY STUART, M.L.C. / Vice Presidents.'.

Dimensions

Height

580 mm

Width

460 mm

Production

Notes

The shield was crafted by the German-born and Swiss trained 'art jeweller' Henry Berthold (c1840-1908), who is believed to have collaborated with Julius Hogarth soon after his arrival in Sydney in 1863 and who by 1866 had his own business in Pitt Street.

This shield was made by Mr. H. Berthold, jeweller, Pitt-street, the stand by Messrs. Walker & Son, and Bartholomew, art furnishers, of George Street. An accompanying gold watch, and chain, and diamond crescent were supplied by Mr. Brian Jones jeweller of Erskine Street.

The shield and stand was presented to George McCredie on the 19th October 1900.

References
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Saturday 20 October 1900, page 9

Made

Berthold, Henry 1900

History

Notes

This shield was presented to George McCredie on 19 October 1900 at a ceremony at the Australia Hotel. The premier, Sir William Lyne, made a presentation to George McCredie on behalf of the citizens of Sydney in recognition of the patriotic and effective manner in which he carried out his duties when in charge of the operations for stamping out the plague. Mr McCredie, he said, had been accused of disregarding the consideration of the economy, but the emergency precluded due regard being paid to the economy. The presentation, he hoped, would prove a salve to Mr McCredie's feelings in respect of the attacks which had been made upon him. (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 1900)

The plague broke out in Sydney on 19 January 1900, when the van driver and resident of the Rocks, Arthur Payne, was found to be infected and sent to the quarantine station. Two months later, after some difficulty finding men prepared to work in plague affected areas, George McCredie was appointed to take charge of all quarantine activities in the Sydney area. The son of a builder from Northern Ireland, McCredie was born in Pyrmont in 1859. He had been apprenticed to the Adelaide Steam Navigation Company at fourteen and trained as a carpenter and joiner. At the time of his appointment he was in partnership with his brother A.L.M. McCredie. Their firm of architects and engineers undertook major engineering projects including docks, reclamations, warehouses and factories. In 1891 he bought land at Guildford and built an Italianate mansion, Linnwood. The following year he was appointed mayor of Prospect and Sherwood and in 1893 he was elected the Member for Central Cumberland.

George McCredie started work on the plague affected areas of Sydney at 4 pm on Friday March 23rd, making a house to house inspection. He later wrote, 'the first area of quarantine contained many things disgraceful in the extreme; accumulations of filth, utter disregard of sanitary arrangements ... numerous sad cases of poverty were met with.' Residents had to remain within barricaded areas as the work of cleansing, limewashing, burning and in some cases demolition took place. Work was completed on July 17 at a total cost of 63 935 pounds. In all, 303 cases of the plague were reported in Sydney and of these 103 died.

George McCredie directed that photographs of housing and conditions in plague affected areas be taken and six volumes survive in the Mitchell Library collection. These provide an extraordinary document of the destitution and poverty that underlay seemingly prosperous Sydney. The photographer, possibly at McCredie's direction, was careful to include men, women and children in the photographs and these provide a particularly poignant reminder of the difficult lives of working people at this time. As a result of the revelations publicised by McCredie, an extensive program of 'slum clearance' was embarked upon and the issues of housing, council regulation and slum landlords were widely debated.

The shield was given to the donor by his father, Ludovic George Houston McCredie who had inherited it from his late father George McCredie. George McCredie died in 1903 from, it was said, the effects of working in plague affected areas. He left a wife and seven children. The shield has been in the glass fronted case as long as the donor can remember.

Owned

McCredie, George 1900

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Maxwell Faulds McCredie, son of Ludovic George Houston McCredie, 1999

Acquisition Date

8 December 1999

Cite this Object

Harvard

Commemorative shield 'Victor of the Plague' 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2018, <https://ma.as/166602>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/166602 |title=Commemorative shield 'Victor of the Plague' |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Store 3 at the Museums Discovery Centre.

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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