C1851

The Gold Diggings at Ophir, County of Wellington, New South Wales.

One of the earliest engravings made in November 1851, depicting the New South Wales gold fields at Ophir. In February 1851, Hargraves and his guide, John Lister, set out on horseback with a pan and rocking-cradle, to Lewis Ponds Creek, … Read Full Description

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S/N: ILN-NC-511025521–219757
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Details

Full Title:

The Gold Diggings at Ophir, County of Wellington, New South Wales.

Date:

C1851

Artist:

Unknown.

Condition:

In good condition.

Technique:

Hand coloured engraving.

Image Size: 

240mm 
x 145mm
AUTHENTICITY
The Gold Diggings at Ophir, County of Wellington, New South Wales. - Antique View from 1851

Genuine antique
dated:

1851

Description:

One of the earliest engravings made in November 1851, depicting the New South Wales gold fields at Ophir.

In February 1851, Hargraves and his guide, John Lister, set out on horseback with a pan and rocking-cradle, to Lewis Ponds Creek, a tributary of the Macquarie River close to Bathurst. On 12 February 1851, they found gold at Ophir. He travelled to Sydney and met the Colonial Secretary in March. Soon the claim was recognised and Hargraves was appointed the “Commissioner of Lands”. He also received a £10,000 reward from the New South Wales government, as well as a life pension and a £5,000 reward from the Victorian government.

The find was finally proclaimed and made public on 14 May 1851 and within days the first Australian gold rush began with 100 diggers searching for their gold. By June there were over 2000 people digging around Bathurst, and thousands more were on their way. In 1852, the yield was 850,000 ounces (24½ tonnes). The Great Western Road to Bathurst became choked with men from all walks of life, with all they could carry to live and mine.[9] The newspaper Bathurst Free Press reported on 17 May 1851: “A complete mental madness appears to have seized almost every member of the community. There has been a universal rush to the diggings.”

Gold had first officially discovered in Australia on 15 February 1823, by assistant surveyor James McBrien, at Fish River, between Rydal and Bathurst. Then in 1839, Paweł Edmund Strzelecki geologist and explorer, discovered small amounts of gold in silicate at the Vale of Clwyd near Hartley, and in 1841 Reverend W. B. Clarke found gold on the Coxs River. The finds were suppressed by the colonial government as it feared that convicts and free settlers would leave their assigned work locations to rush to the new find to seek their fortunes.  After the Californian goldrush started in 1848 and when people immediately began to leave Australia for California the New South Wales colonial government decided to alter its position and encourage the search for payable gold. In 1849 the colonial government sought approval of the Colonial Office in England to allow the exploitation of the mineral resources of New South Wales. A geologist was requested and this led to the appointment of Samuel Stutchbury and a reward was offered for the first person to find payable gold.

From the original edition of the Illustrated London News.

 

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