Culture Buff

Stuart Devlin candelabras (1980-81) in Dining Room

13 October 2018

9:00 AM

13 October 2018

9:00 AM

Every day, Australians carry some of his work in their pockets. Stuart Devlin (1931-2018) designed the decimal currency introduced in 1966. He also designed coins for 30 other countries including the UK and Singapore. However, coins represented only one part of Devlin’s extraordinary career. Born in Geelong, his early academic success brought travelling scholarships which exposed him to the newest trends in silverwork, but soon enough he was setting the trends. The Australian coinage was his breakthrough but his decision to establish a studio in London in the mid-1960s saw him in the vanguard of gold and silversmiths who were developing individual styles and selling their output under their own names. Devlin opened his own retail premises in Conduit Street in 1979. He became known for gold and silver collectors’ items, particularly Christmas boxes and surprise Easter eggs with gorgeous interiors in the manner of Fabergé.

One of his favourite stories concerned a commission from Elizabeth Taylor: a huge cocktail shaker as a gift for Richard Burton. It came back a year or two later for repairs after a ‘domestic incident’. Another extraordinary commission was from the 6th Duke of Westminster for a 9ft-long candelabrum weighing 46lbs, holding 34 candles. Greatly honoured, he received the Royal Warrant as Goldsmith and Jeweller to the Queen in 1982 and was also awarded a CMG. Having designed many of the Australian honours awards he was appointed an AO in 1988. Truly, a glittering career.

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