NotesThe three model cows were made by Wilhelmina Gore who was born on 4 January 1861 at Stroud, NSW, the daughter of Irish immigrants, Richard Gore and Sarah Nelson. Wilhelmina was the 6th of nine children born between 1852 and 1870, including Theresa Frances Gore b. 1852, Sarah Ellen Gore b. 1854, Richard Nelson Gore b. 1856, Mary Jane Gore 1858-1944, Martha Ann Gore 1859-1940, William Henry Gore b. 1864, Ralph Gore b.1866 and Eleanor Gore b.1870.
The family lived at a number of stations near Uralla where their father worked, including 'Box Water', 'Eversleigh' and 'Torryburn'. Of the family, only the three middle Gore sisters, Mary Jane, Martha and Wilhelmina made the wax models. In a newspaper interview in the early 1940s Wilhelmina recalled they began making the models at a young age, with apparently a full-size cow which they fashioned in black clay so that it appeared to be stranded in a mud bog. It apparently seemed so realistic that passersby tried to rescue it.
The girls went on to model miniature horses, sheep and dogs but preferred cows because their colours were prettier. When they were in their late teens the girls exhibited four wax cows in the Ladies Court of the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879 held in the Garden Palace. Their exhibit was judged Highly Commended and the exhibition report noted "the modelling shows a great deal of natural talent, worthy of encouragement". "The Sydney Morning Herald" referred to them as the "untaught daughters of a shepherd".
Wilhelmina married John Jurd on 19 August 1886 at St Peter's Anglican Cathedral, Armidale, and even described her occupation on her marriage certificate as a "modeller in wax" The Jurds lived at Bundarra, Tenterfield and later in Sydney. After her marriage, Wilhelmina continued making the model animals which included cows, horses and greyhound dogs, for family members and friends but apparently never for any monetary reward.
By the 1940s Wilhelmina was living in the Sydney suburb of Coogee and made a donkey and cows for an Ashfield church crèche. Even in her 70s she was still enjoying this unusual craft as well as the more conventional embroidery, crocheting patchwork quilts and knitting socks for soldiers. Some of her models were exhibited during the Second World at the David Jones department store in Sydney to raise money for the Red Cross. Her models also featured in a Cinesound Movietone newsreel shot by Ken Hall, a copy of which unfortunately does not appear to have survived. Wilhelmina died in Sydney in September 1953. These three cows passed to her granddaughter, Mrs Lorraine Tilsed, who donated them to the Museum in 1984.
Other examples of the Gore sisters' craft survive. A bullock team of eight yoked bullocks hauling a wagon is at the National Trust-owned property, Saumarez homestead, near Armidale while eleven wax animals are in the collection of Museum Victoria. These were made by Mary Jane Gore who from 1881 was the wife of James Johnston of Armidale who ran a dairy. Three kangaroos, also made by Mary Jane, survive in a private collection. Unfortunately the collection of models made by Martha Gore, who married a farmer, Gustav Drabsch, in 1878, was lost in a bushfire which destroyed their homestead at Guyra, NSW. Other examples are said to survive with the families and friends of the Gore sisters' descendants.