Unique Dame Nellie memorabilia goes under the hammer

2 April 2015

A unique gold paperweight belonging to Australian opera luminary and national icon Dame Nellie Melba has been purchased by the Museum Victoria with the assistance of the Australian Government.

The paperweight from Melba’s family estate was purchased with a contribution of $136,620 from the Australian Government’s National Cultural Heritage Account which helps to ensure that significant Australian objects remain in Australia and are made accessible to the public.

The paperweight, which was created by Victorian company Hammerton & Sons in 1922, was presented to Melba by the people of Geelong for her fundraising efforts for the local hospital. It is significant for its connection to Melba but also for many historical associations which include Australian iconography, the local gold and silver smithing industry and regional Victorian history of the 1920s.

Melba is of special significance to Victoria as she was born in Melbourne and took her name in honour of her hometown. The new addition will complement Museum Victoria’s collection of memorabilia that belonged to Melba.

Through the National Cultural Heritage Account, $500,000 is made available each year to a wide range of Australian cultural organisations such as museums, galleries, libraries and historic buildings to purchase Australian protected objects as defined by the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986.

For more information about the National Cultural Heritage Account visit the Ministry for the Arts website at arts.gov.au/movable/account.