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Pair of candlesticks

Pair of candlesticks


Maker unknown (Tasmania)

wood (Huon pine); bone (horse)

26 h x 8.5 w x 8.5 d cm

Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) State Collection of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Collected by Mr George Burrows.



This pair of candlesticks was collected by George Burrows in Tasmania, further provenance unknown.


This pair of unusual candlesticks have been turned with a sequence of mouldings and incisions typical of smaller turned artefacts of the nineteenth century. These reference the mouldings and details of classical architecture. These candlesticks were made to commemorate a racehorse killed in an accident at the Brighton racecourse in southern Tasmania and are emblematic of the importance of horse breeding and racing in colonial Tasmania. Because the cannon bones bear a considerable part of the horse’s weight while it is in motion, their proportions are important indicators of breeding quality. Both this fact and the size and straightness of the bones may have influenced the decision to commemorate the horse in this unusual way.


A pair of candlesticks made from Huon pine and the cannon bones of a horse. The base and candle socket are turned Huon pine, the stem is turned bone. The bone stem is friction fitted into turned sockets in the Huon pine components. Parts of the bone surfaces fall below the turned profile and have a rough uneven surface. The undersides of the bases are unvarnished and one bears a long inscription in black ink.

Statement of Significance

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery seeks to build a comprehensive representation of decorative arts made in Tasmania in the colonial period. This includes items made in Tasmania from 1803 to 1901. Many of these objects are similar to contemporaneous objects made in Britain, but are distinguished by an idiosyncratic inflection derived from the colonial context of their production. These cannon bone candlesticks are a highly idiosyncratic example of the turner’s art. While the material is unusual, the quality of the turning suggests the work of an experienced, if not professional, wood turner. They were made to commemorate the loss of a prized race horse.


Inscribed in black in on the underside: 'Cannon bones of the [horse?] Quiz the Property of Mr W. H. Mence who was killed on the Brighton racecourse whilst running in the Town plate'.


The Courier, 7 November 1854, p. 2


To the Editor of the Hobart Town Daily Courier.

Sir,-In the columns of your journal of the 3rd last., I find an incorrect report of the unfortunate circumstances connected with the, death of my horse "Quiz," on the Brighton Race Course.. The particulars are as follows, which you will much oblige by giving place to in your columns, for the satisfaction of the public, and to set at rest the erroneous reports now in circulation touching that sad catastrophe.
The accident took place whilst running for the Town Plate, in which race "Sultan," "Cervantes," and "Quiz" started. They had run about three quarters of a mile, when the person who was the cause of that tragical scene galloped across the running ground. " Sultan" was at this time leading the race, " Cervantes" about half a neck behind, "Quiz" about a neck from the quarters of "Cervantes,'' hard held, when the man in question rode his horse betwixt them. The clash was a dreadful one, and but for the sparing hand of a merciful God, we must both have been killed upon the spot, I was the owner and rider of " Quiz," and have sustained great injury in my left hand, by the dislocation of one of the carpal bones, my right arm being very much bruised - as well as losing a valuable horse, whose racing qualities need no comment. I was offered £350 for him prior to the race, and £400 if he won. That race I consider was a gift to him, which altogether makes the loss to me a great one. The person on whose shoulders the blame rests to me is a stranger, and I doubt not suffering greatly for the mad attempt, his thigh being broken in two places. He was hurled four or live yards across the course away from his horse. I was thrown into the air with great violence from the buck of that noble animal, who was caught by a gentleman on the ground. I led him from the fatal spot, injured and exhausted as I was, with the blood gushing through his nostrils; with difficulty he reached his stable, and fell down dead. The cause was the' bursting of a main artery, which may be more fully explained before a higher tribunal.

These are the main and true facts of the melancholy affair, which I consider a loss to me of more than £1000.

I remain, Sir,
Your obedient and humble servant,

William Henry Mence.

Launceston, 6th November, 1854.

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This page was last modified on : 11 August, 2011