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2016/3. A Brief History of Dunedin Jewellers in New Zealand, beginning with the Gold Rush. Alex Trapeznik


Early New Zealand jewellers established themselves during the gold rushes of the 1860s. It was rare, however, that this aspect of New Zealand’s trade history was well recorded. Of the gold and silver that was mined in New Zealand up to 1876, the region of Otago contributed more than three-eighths of what was exported. Due to this huge resource many gold- and silversmiths settled in nearby Dunedin, a small colonial settlement little more than a decade old when gold was discovered in 1861. This paper describes the most important manufacturing jewellers of the time, of which some have survived until recent decades. These include G & T Young, the oldest jewellery manufacturers in New Zealand, who operated until recently, C. Moller and Sons Ltd and John Hislop, who were prominent in the jewellery manufacturing trade from the late 19th century onwards, and finally Dawsons Limited, who were important in the early to mid-20th century. Since the 1970s individual craftsmen have kept the tradition of Dunedin jewellers, dating back to the gold rush, alive.


Alex Trapeznik is an associate professor in history at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Among his many publications he has edited Common Ground?: Heritage and Public Places in New Zealand (2000) and recently published an e-book Dunedin’s Warehouse Precinct (2014). His particular interest lies in the documentation of the cultural heritage of Dunedin and New Zealand. He has also written articles on the history of the Russian samovar and its manufacture in Tula.