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Sydney Harbour Bridge History


I'm delighted to show you this offering in our upcoming auction. It's an interesting and significant piece of Australiana.

Lot 354 is a Photographic Montage of the official opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 19 March 1932.

What's different about this piece is that it depicts an incident that happened just before the official opening.  In an incredible national security blunder, Captain Francis de Groot* of the Fascist group the New Guard, managed to ride up and slice through the ribbon before the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.


What I find so interesting about the New Guard is that if you read their initial blurb, the avowed ideals sound appealing: such things as honour in government, morality and individual liberty resonate well with the citizenry and most right-wing organisations use them in their platforms.  Trouble is, they always bring attendant problems, such as intolerance, racism and classism.



Section: Some of the players


The other fascinating bit for me personally was that De Groot was an antiques dealer. But I digress.
De Groot and the New Guard were bitterly opposed to the Premier, Jack Lang.  Embarrassing him publicly was minor; they also planned paramilitary opposition and even considered kidnapping Lang and seizing political power in a coup d’├ętat.



Section: The Incident. 
De Groot slashes the ribbon ceremonially and is unceremoniously dragged from his horse
(and promptely arrested!)
The ribbon was retied and then cut by the Premier



The Montage of the Harbour Bridge incident is believed to be one of two printed. 

The piece currently on offer was presented to Mr Charles Clifford Cooper, then Secretary & Treasurer of the Balmain local branch of the New Guard.  Provenance: by descent to the present owner.  It comes with a Letter of provenance. 

A complete catalogue of our antiques offerings is available at Easy Live Auctions dot com.  You can access the Harbour Bridge piece by using this link to the Sunday 27th November Auction and entering Lot 354. Online and absentee bidding are available.



*Spelt ‘de Groot’ at the ubiquitous Wikipedia, but ‘De Groot’ in the newspapers (e.g. The Sydney Morning Herald) and the Australian Dictionary of Biography.