A letter received out of the blue two years ago has allowed us to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first international match at the MCG with the display of some superb silverware directly related to the occasion.
An Australian cricket buff now living in the US, David W. Anstice, bought this tea and coffee set at an auction in London in 1995.
It was presented by catering firm Spiers & Pond, the promoters of that feted tour of 1861/62 by H.H. Stephenson’s XI, to Richmond Cricket Club secretary George Shoosmith.
We’re not sure why such an elaborate gift went Shoosmith’s way, although George was a selector for the Victorian XVIII opposing Stephenson’s team and he obviously organised practice for the visitors on the Richmond Cricket Club oval (Punt Road) on Christmas Day, 1861.
The letter from Mr Anstice foreshadowed the upcoming 150th anniversary of Spiers & Pond’s venture and described the treasures in his possession. Would we like to borrow the silverware if the club was planning to mark the anniversary? We sure would! Thanks to Mr Anstice’s generosity, you’ll soon find the tea set on show in the MCC Museum.
Meantime, the MCC Library is mounting a mini-exhibition of its Spiers & Pond/H.H. Stephenson material for display throughout the cricket season.
A thought on all this. If George Shoosmith of Richmond received such bounty from the caterers, why wasn’t the MCC similarly favoured?
Simply, the club took a purely commercial approach to the event, hiring out the ground to the promoters who took the risk and reaped huge benefits.
So no silverware for us!