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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Edward Hargraves

c. 1884
Henry King

albumen silver photograph on cabinet card (support: 15.2 cm x 10.5 cm, image: 14.7 cm x 10.0 cm)

Edward Hargraves (1816–1891), adventurer and speculator, claimed credit for the discovery of gold in New South Wales. A soldier’s son, Hargraves ran away to sea at fourteen and eventually ended up in Sydney, where he worked at various jobs before heading to California in 1849. After eighteen fruitless months there he came back to New South Wales hell-bent on earning the reward on offer to anyone who located substantial gold deposits in the colony. With the assistance of three others and employing the fossicking methods he’d learned in California, Hargraves found flecks of gold in the Macquarie River in February 1851 and soon afterwards returned to Sydney to convince the Colonial Secretary of his entitlement to the £500 reward. Meanwhile, his partners had found gold in more promising quantities. Despite being urged to secrecy, Hargraves announced the location of the finds at a meeting in Bathurst in May. Within days, the gold rush had begun. Hargraves was awarded a further £10,000 by the government and appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands. In England in 1853–54 he was presented to Queen Victoria and in 1855 he published Australia and its goldfields. But he was soon broke again, and in 1861 attempted to secure a portion of a £5000 Victorian government reward for the discoveries of gold made there ten years earlier. He was later invited to prospect for gold by the governments of South and Western Australia, but his lavish lifestyle ultimately left him almost penniless. Hargraves’s partners in the 1851 find were eventually compensated to the comparatively paltry tune of £1000 each. In 1890, after years of petitioning, they were finally acknowledged as ‘undoubtedly the first discoverers of gold obtained in Australia in payable quantity'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2015

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Henry King (age 29 in 1884)

Edward Hammond Hargraves (age 68 in 1884)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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