Published: 01 May 2019


Ms FORREST - Mr President, I recently attended a reception to celebrate the return of some historic items to Queenstown, including a beautiful necklace previously owned by Marion Sticht, the wife of Robert Sticht, a former mine manager for Mount Lyell mine.  Robert Carl Sticht worked for the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company, initially as a metallurgist and later as a manager, from 1895 to 1921.

Marion Oak Staige and Robert were both born in the United States and left for their new home of Queenstown, Tasmania shortly after marrying in 1895.  Marion and Robert Sticht were important figures and community leaders in Queenstown. 

In his role as manager, Robert had the magnificent Federation-style Penghana House built overlooking the town and mining works, now owned by the National Trust and lovingly managed by Karen Nixon and Steve Berndt.  I acknowledge and thank Karen for her important role in seeing this necklace returned to Queenstown.

While the relevance of some of the charms of this necklace are uncertain, we presume they were pieced together by Marion Sticht.  I have some photographs if members are interested in looking at these.  It is not a glamourous necklace in any sense, but it is very historic.

The necklace consists of a fine gold chain, to which 27 unique pendants or charms are attached.  Almost half of these are engraved with dates and places relating to the events in the lives of the family.  These charms are a miniature biography of this couple in objects commemorating important moments in their lives such as marriage, anniversaries, holidays, trips back home and the birthdays of their children. 

A number of the charms are marked for the Launceston jeweller F&W Stewart; some are likely to have been made in the United States and in Europe.  While not of significant monetary value and not particularly artistically significant, their real value resides in their assemblage over time by the couple.  This is both unique and historically important.

The journey of this necklace is unclear as Marion and her sons fell on hard times following Robert's death in 1922.  Marion and her two sons moved from Queenstown to Balfour in reduced circumstances with a private mining venture leaving them £70 000 in debt.  The couple's significant library was sold in 1922 and their equally impressive art collection was auctioned the following year.  Marion died in Melbourne in 1924.

The other beautiful items in the display cabinet put together by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery - TMAG -  include a chatelaine aide memoire circa 1870, a little note cover made of silver and ivory with a beautiful love poem written in German; the railway spike driven in by Mrs Marion Sticht to complete the railway link at Mount Lyell; and the ceremonial hammer made from wood and brass that we believe was used to hit in the last spike at the Mount Lyell Railway by Mrs Sticht.

Karen Dixon, the manager of Penghana, became aware of this necklace and communicated with its most recent owner, Ms Frances Herriott from Queensland.  Karen brought the whereabouts of the necklace to the attention of TMAG's decorative arts curator, Peter Hughes.  Karen helped connect TMAG with Ms Herriott, who was also intending to attend this event but sadly could not make it at the last minute.

TMAG acquired the Sticht charm necklace for the state collection with the support of the TMAG Foundation Ltd.  This necklace, when bought from Ms Herriot, was complete, undamaged and unrestored.

I thank and acknowledge the TMAG Foundation community that supports the work of TMAG by raising funds for research, exhibitions, TMAG's education programs and acquisitions such as the Marion Sticht charm necklace.  Without its support, TMAG simply could not have acquired this wonderful piece of west coast history.

Getting the necklace back to Tasmania was the first step.  The next step was getting it properly mounted for display back where the story started, in Queenstown, and that is where I became involved.  As a proud representative of the west coast region and a member of the TMAG Foundation community, I worked with TMAG director Janet Harding and others to ensure it would be displayed in Queenstown.

I acknowledge the financial support of TMAG, Peter Walker, the general manager of Mount Lyell Copper Mines, and the Honourable Jeremy Rockliff for their financial support that added to my financial support and saw these items returned to the west coast.

The Sticht charm necklace is an important illustration of Tasmania's west coast stories and many of the charms have a special meaning.

I encourage anyone visiting the west coast to call in to the West Coast Community Services Hub to see this display.  I have a photograph that shows some of the charms up close, and there is more information about the other charms in the display.

I acknowledge the support of everyone at Libraries Tasmania for offering the library as a venue for Marion Sticht's necklace so it can be available for everyone to enjoy, locals and visitors alike.  For many people, their favourite charm was the little charm that has the initials of both Robert and Marion on it, the dates on which they were in Tasmania, and a map of Tasmania with a little gemstone, possibly a diamond, right on the spot where Queenstown is.


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