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The Gold Commissioners issuing licenses
Title : The Gold Commissioners issuing licenses The Gold Commissioners issuing licenses
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Creator : Dunn, E.C., artist
Source : B 5772
Date of creation : 1852
Additional Creator : The Illustrated London News, 22 May 1852
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 215 x 157 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

Etching of the Gold Commissioners at Ballarat gold fields issuing licenses and weighing the gold dust.

Along with the image of the gold commissioners, The Illustrated London News also printed on the first page, an image of the 'First escort of gold', and 'The Ballarat diggings', all created by artist Dunn. An inscription from the paper relating to the images provides an explanation and description.

The illustrations upon the preceding page are from three of a series of Sketches we have just been favoured with by Mr. E.C. Dunn, of Chepstow, Mount Emu, Port Phillip; from whose communication the following are extracts:

"The gold at Ballarat is seldom found in large quantities till the miner has penetrated through a hard stony soil for a distance of ten or twelve feet, and reached a species of blue clay, in which at this place the gold is principally found; but it has been found in larger qualities at a depth of thirty-five feet, and imbedded in iron-stone."

"I forwarded you a Sketch of the first escort leaving the Buninyong inn. The first evening I passed at the inn during my visit to these diggings, a labouring man named Cavenagh walked by, carrying with him his day's earnings: they mounted to 600 (pounds). His mate marched behind him, carrying a double-barrelled gun. The man and his brothers have since, I understand, realised many thousands of pounds in this way; but this is by no means a rare instance."

"The diggers are usually formed among themselves into parties of four: one digs and turns, one or two cart the earth to the water, and one washes the earth. Nearly the whole of the ground lying between the tents and the creek, except where streets are left, is completely hollowed out into pits, averaging from 10 to 30 feet deep, and 8 feet square, the latter being the quantity allowed to each digger. Each digger is expected to pay a license fee to Government of 30s* per month, for which he is allowed 8 feet square to dig. The fee may be paid in gold dust. A great many pay, as so doing secures to the proprietor his pit, if it should prove a good one; whereas, if he has not paid the fees, another who applies and pays may turn him out. But by far the greater of the portion of diggers do not pay, and Government is not strong enough to compel them."

The Illustrated London News. For the week ending Saturday, 22 May 1852, page 401, column b.



Coverage year : 1852
Place : Ballarat, Victoria
Further reading :

Annear, Robyn Nothing but Gold Melbourne : Text Publishing, 1999

Austin, JB The mines of South Australia : including also an account of the smelting works in that colony, together with a brief description of the country and incidents of travel in the bush Adelaide 1863

Blake, LJ Gold escort Melbourne : Hawthorn Press, 1971

Chilman, JK Silver and a trace of gold: a history of the Aclare mine Adelaide: South Australian Dept. of Mines and Energy, 1982.

Flett, J A pictorial history of the Victorian goldfields [Adelaide] : Rigby, [1977]

Gold escort re-enactment Adelaide : S.A. Police, Commonwealth Bank, 1986

Hocking, G Gold: a pictorial history of the Australian gold rush, Rowville, Vic: Five Mile Press, 2006, c2000

Kwan, Elizabeth. Living in South Australia: a social history, Netley, S. Aust.: South Australian Government Printer, 1987

Stone, DI Life on the Australian goldfields Carlton, Vic. ; [Sydney] : Methuen of Australia, [1976]


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