T. GAUNT and CO. Watchmakers, Opticians, and Thermometer Manufacturers, etc.,
337 - 339 Bourke Street, Melbourne. (F. W. Heath.) This well-known establishment is one of the features of Melbourne, and undoubtedly contains the largest assortment of jewellers' goods to be found anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. The business was founded in 1852 by the late Mr. Thomas Gaunt, who made his name a household word, not only in Australia, but also in England. Starting in a very small way, Mr. Gaunt soon found his business rapidly increasing, and in 1867 he removed into the large central and commodious premises where the business has been so successfully carried on ever since. During the lifetime of the founder of this business, his name became widely and permanently known in Victoria by the fact of his supplying almost every town and city in the State with the large public clocks which adorn their public buildings. But it is in connection with the large chronograph erected at Flemington racecourse that Mr. Gaunt will be chiefly remembered. This timekeeper is a marvel of delicate workmanship, and was for a time the only one of its kind in existence, until a similar one was built in 1899 by the firm to the order of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club. It cost Mr. Gaunt many years of labour and study, besides a great deal of expenditure, in order to bring his idea to perfection. Success eventually crowned his efforts, and the present clock was the gratifying result. It serves as an object lesson to all the world, and was generously presented to the V.R.C. by the maker. Naturally it has attracted a great deal of attention on the part of visitors from the old country, and the firm have recently received an order for a similar chronograph to be constructed for the use of one of the principal racing clubs in England. The well-known clock figures, Gog and Magog, in the Royal Arcade, Melbourne, were also made at Gaunt's, and recall their famous prototypes in the Guildhall, London. In addition to the many other notable works executed by the firm, they have achieved an enviably high reputation for the artistic beauty and elegance of their manufactured jewellery, which is wrought by workmen as skilled as any to be found in England or on the Continent, and it is pleasant to record that all the more skilful of the employees have been in the service of the firm for periods ranging from fifteen to thirty-five years, which speaks well for all parties concerned.
Mr. FREDERICK W. HEATH, the present proprietor, took over the business in 1892. He has had thirty years' experience in the trade, twenty-one years of that time having been spent in the wholesale line as a partner in the firm of Messrs. Willis and Co. During that time he founded the Wholesale and Manufacturing Jewellers' Association of Victoria, which has been of immense benefit in regulating the quality of gold manufactured. The wide, varied, and intimate knowledge thus acquired has proved invaluable to him in the present business, and an inspection of the establishment now conducted by him will convince anyone that his whole energy and experience are concentrated in the effort to vindicate and maintain the right of the firm to be ranked as one of the leading jewellery establishments in Australasia. In the windows and showrooms are innumerable specimens of the gold and silversmiths' art of the latest and most admirable designs, and Mr. Heath makes it one of the cardinal principles of his business always to keep a very large stock constantly on hand, as he has learned by experience that the public appreciate the advantage of the widest possible range of selection. A showroom on the first floor, covering the whole extent of the establishment, is devoted to the display of every description of article used in connection with church adornment. Some very beautiful specimens of this class of manufacture have been turned out by the firm, notably all the altar furnishings, both gold and silver, for St. Patrick's Cathedral, the pastoral staff of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, and also of the same dignitary of Ballarat. A specialty of the firm is its optical branch, where everything is up to date, and carried out in a thoroughly scientific manner, no pains being spared in testing the eyesight of those who need artificial assistance for the vision.
Mr. Heath was born in Plymouth, England, in the year 1854, and is the eldest son of the late Captain Nicholas Heath, one of the well-known identities of the early days of Melbourne in connection with the China trade. Captain Heath performed a noteworthy achievement in 1866 by sailing a vessel from England to Melbourne only 70 feet in length, being one of the smallest boats that has ever made the trip. She was a tug boat, destined for service in Victorian waters. Captain Heath was accompanied on his voyage by his young son, then a boy of twelve years, now the proprietor of the business whose history is related above. During the recent visit of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, Mr. Heath was sent for, and accorded the honor of a personal interview with T.R.H. in connection with an exquisitely beautiful trophy manufactured by him, and presented to the Duke and Duchess by the State Government, who were greatly pleased with the elegance and taste displayed.
Source: The Cyclopedia of Victoria: An Historical and Commercial Review, Descriptive and Biographical, Facts, Figures and Illustrations : An Epitome of Progress.
- Volume 2 - 1904
Thomas Gaunt was recorded as showing at the following exhibitions:
The Australian Intercolonial Exhibition, Melbourne, 1866-7
The Melbourne Exhibition 1869
The London International Exhibition, 1872-3
The Intercolonial Exhibition, Melbourne, 1875
The Paris Universal Exhibition, 1878
The Colonial and Indian Exhibition, London, 1886
Address's recorded for T. Gaunt & Co. are as follows:
7, Little Bourke Street East - 1859-62
5, Little Bourke Street East - 1863-70
5, Post Office Place and Royal Arcade - 1871-5
14, Bourke Street East and Royal Arcade - 1876-7
339, Bourke Street East - 1889-93
1, Royal Arcade, 337-9, Bourke Street and Mercer Road, Armadale - 1894-9
Source: 19th Century Australian Silver
, Vols 1 & 2 - J B Hawkins
Thomas Gaunt - Melbourne - 1875
Thomas Gaunt - Melbourne - 1889