New South Wales
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These are the breastplates annotated in King Plates: A History of Aboriginal Gorgets by Jakelin Troy (1993) as well as breastplates that have come into the National Museum of Australia's collection since the publication of the book. More breastplates will be progressively added.
We welcome feedback about any of the breastplates and/or additional breastplates.
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Jemmy, King of Bolara Maneroo
1985.59.379 Edmund O Milne Collection
155 x 126 x 7
The deep crescent shape of the sand-cast brass gorget copies exactly the shape of military gorgets. The shape, lettering and design suggest an early to mid-nineteenth century date for the gorget. The piece was very professionally produced with well-balanced lettering and confident engraving. The naively drawn emu and kangaroo are lively and expressive.
The location of Bolara Maneroo can be identified with some confidence. It is more difficult to identify the actual property, which may have been one of three. The most likely is Bollero Station, lease number five in the Maneroo district (now written Monaro) which was owned by William Barnett  but it may have been one of two other leases with a similar name: Bolaro Station, in the district of Murrumbidgee, which was the station of Thomas Rourke  or lease number 91 in the Maneroo district, Bollera Station owned by Francis Mowatt. 
Jemmy's identity can only be guessed at from the information so far uncovered. On the government blanket distribution list 'Return of Aboriginal natives at Janevale Murrayshire June 1834' there are several Jemmys listed and a 'Tommy, King of Bolero'. One Jemmy in particular is listed as having a gorget although the location name is different:
Breast plate chief, Jemmy King of Maroma, probable age 20, number of wives 1, children - 1 male 1 female, location of territory - between Jemmor Jemordary and Yass.
1 WH Wells, A Geographical Dictionary; or Gazetteer of the Australian Colonies, 1848, The Council of the Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1848, p. 61 and WK Hancock, Discovering Monaro: a Study of Man's Impact on His Environment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1972, p. 51.
2 WH Wells, A Geographical Dictionary; or Gazetteer of the Australian Colonies, 1848, The Council of the Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1848, p. 61.
3 WK Hancock, Discovering Monaro: a Study of Man's Impact on His Environment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1972, p. 51.
King John Cry, Chief of the Duedolgong Tribe, Argyle
1985.59.380 Edmund O Milne Collection
148 x 118 x 6
This sand-cast brass gorget is another of the five which have pictures of Aboriginal people incorporated into design. The engraved decoration is a lively tableau. An Aboriginal man has just fired a gun at a dingo which looks back at the hunter while running away through long grass. All the actions of the gun, the strike of the hammer, the blast from the barrel and the smoke rising back from the charge, are indicated with fine engraved lines. Although the victim looks very like a fox an examination of nineteenth-century pictures of dingoes reveals that early artists generally produced the brushy-tailed specimen depicted here. The deep crescentic shape of the plate, style of lettering and early form for the dingo suggest that stylistically the plate appears to be from the early half of the nineteenth century. The dating also reinforces that of the blanket list.
King John Cry and the 'Duedolgong Tribe' are elusive. However, on the New South Wales Government blanket distribution list 'Return of Aboriginal Natives taken at Janevale Murrayshire June 1834' a man is listed who is very likely to have been King John Cry, given the similarity of name and the note that he had a gorget:
Breastplate chief, Old Cry, probable age: 60, 1 wife, designation of tribe - Hagen Hope district or usual resort Limestone Plains, Condore, Mountain Murrumbidgee.
If 'Old Cry' is the same man as King John Cry, this gorget would be very old, dating from at least the 1820s. The deep crescent shape of the plate, which is very like that of military gorgets, as well as the early style of lettering and old-fashioned picture of the dingo also suggest an early date for the gorget. In his history of Goulburn, Ransome Wyatt noted that the gorget was discovered by Mr Cornwell Snr, in 1901, while ploughing a paddock near Tirranna Church. It was believed to have been buried for 60 or 70 years.  The find was reported in the Werriwa Times, 21 October 1901:
AN INTERESTING FIND ... On Sunday last Mr. W.J. Brown, of Mr. Tuttlebee's shop, came across an interesting find in a ploughed paddock at Tirranna near the old church. It was brass plate, half-moon in shape with the following inscription on it, below a well-engraved figure of a man shooting at a kangaroo: 'King John Cry, Chief of the Duedolgong tribe, Argyle'. The plate had evidently been worn by one of the Aboriginal chiefs of the district. There is no date on it, but an old resident of the locality stated that she remembers a chief of that name who lived about here some 60 years ago. It was buried about 10 inches from the surface, and had been turned over by the plough. It is supposed that there is an old grave at the spot. The plate is well preserved.
1 Wyatt, RT, The History of Goulburn, NSW, The Municipality of Goulburn, Goulburn, 1941, p. 110.
Jack the Traveller, King of Bendora Belle Vue and Jembicumbane
1985.59.371 Edmund O Milne Collection
150 x 113 x 6
This gorget is another of the five in the Museum's collection which has the figure of an Aboriginal man incorporated into the decorative design. The engraved tableau is a lively scene. The man, dressed in a pair of breeches, is hunting and has just fired his gun at a startled kangaroo. The whole scene is being watched by a goggle-eyed emu. Although sketchy, the man is accurately and dynamically drawn. He leans into his long-barrelled gun bracing himself, having just fired the piece. Fine lines suggest the hammer action of the gun and smoke from the charge at the end of the barrel.
Nothing has yet been discovered about Jack the Traveller. However, the scene on his gorget suggests an Aboriginal person who has embraced some aspects of colonial society. He wears clothing and uses a gun, which suggests the value placed by Aboriginal people on such a weapon for hunting. The locations named on the gorget can be identified. Bendora Belle Vue is very likely to have been Bendora Station on the Shoalhaven River and Jembicumbane is certainly Jembaicumbene Creek, also on the Shoalhaven River. 
1 WH Wells, A Geographical Dictionary; or Gazetteer of the Australian Colonies, 1848, The Council of the Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1848, p. 369.
U Robert, King of Big Leather and Big River tribes
1985.59.364 Edmund O Milne Collection
141 x 145 x 2
This is the only heart shaped gorget in the Museum's collection. It is a flat brass plate with simple but professionally executed engraving. The shape of the plate was sawn skilfully and symmetrically, indicating it was the work of a craftsperson. The common emu, kangaroo and xanthorrhoea motifs are included in the decoration which is also embellished with an unusual pattern of Aboriginal weaponry. The spears, club, boomerang and shield are objects common to initiated adult Aboriginal men entitled to hunt animals and engage in combat. Just as the kangaroo and emu in a field are based on armorial bearers the Aboriginal weaponry evokes the maces, lances and swords so often included in the blazon of English nobility.
A note made by Edmund Milne supplies the only known record of U. Robert and his gorget:
'U. Robert King of Big Leather and Big River Tribes'. A modern plate. Presented by Queen Mary Ann, relict of the old king, to Mr Ryrie. U. Robert was a very old man and died about 1896. His country lay to the North of the Gwydir River and along to the Barwon River and north towards the Queensland border. Of his early history, nothing is known. ... His Tribe was extinct in 1909, when Jimmy Smith, the last of the old Clan died. Jimmy Smith taught Major-General Sir Granville Ryrie to throw the boomerang when a young man at Goonal Station, Moree District. 
The Ryries with whom U. Robert was associated were a major pastoral family in New South Wales in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Their property was Michelago Station in the Monaro district.
1 E Milne Jr, Health Museum Breast Plates, list, manuscript, National Museum of Australia, EO Milne Collection file no 35/310, folio 165, nd.
Jemmy, King of Big River
1985.119.1 Illawarra Historical Society
180 x 109.5 x 9; chain 229
This gorget looks to have been made by a blacksmith. The chain from which it hung is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. The iron links of the chain were hand made from square wire and it is attached to the gorget by round wire links.
No information about Jemmy has been uncovered. However, Big River may have been near the Big Leather Watercourse which feeds into the Gwydir River at Moree and flows towards the Barwon River. Evidence for the location of Big River is found on another of the Museum's gorgets, that made for U. Robert, King of Big Leather and Big River Tribes (collection number 1985.59.364). The association of Big Leather with Big River indicates their close proximity.
Paddy, King of Boobarrego
1985.59.368 Edmund O Milne Collection
150 x 113 x 6
This is one of five gorgets in the Museum's collection which have pictures of Aboriginal men incorporated into the design (none has a picture of a woman). However, it is only one in which an attempt has been made to portray an Aboriginal man without alluding in any way to influences from colonial society. The scene is a tableau which is supposed to represent a traditional Aboriginal hunting scene. On one side of the gorget is the man who stalks a kangaroo on the opposite side; his spear is poised and he carries a boomerang. Around his waist is a belt which may be a fillet made of fish net. A xanthorrhoea evokes an Australian bush setting for the action. The plate is well crafted from sawn brass and the engraving is the work of a professional. Well-worn holes for suspending the gorget indicate that the gorget was used often. Details about Paddy can be found in the text.
> Creation of Aboriginal kings - more details about Paddy