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Harold Francis Sargison (1885–1983)

by Janet Fenton

This article was published:

Harold Francis Sargison (1885-1983), silversmith and clockmaker, was born on 10 October 1885 in Hobart, third of four children of Tasmanian-born parents Francis Augustus Sargison, an engineering pattern-maker, and his wife Ann Eleanor, née Evans. Harold attended Battery Point Model School and in 1902 was apprenticed for five years to a silversmith, Joseph William Quarmby. Excited to receive his first pay packet, Harold ran home and presented five shillings to his mother, an action indicative of the generosity of spirit that was to be a trait of his personality. He went into partnership with George Miller in a watchmaker and jeweller’s shop at 31 Murray Street, bought the business in 1919, and moved it in 1922 to 21 Elizabeth Street, where he developed a reputation as a fine craftsman. On 15 March 1924 at St David’s Cathedral he married with Church of England rites Doris Winsbury Ivey (d.1974), a clerk.

Exhibiting regularly in the 1920s with the Arts and Crafts Society of Tasmania, Sargison was influenced by its president, the architect and designer Alan Walker. In 1932 he made the elaborate gold monstrance, adorned with precious stones, designed by Walker for St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart. Other significant works included a military trophy, now held by the Military Museum of Tasmania, Anglesea Barracks, a grandfather clock, shown at the 1931 arts and crafts exhibition in Hobart, the lord mayor of Hobart’s chain of office and the mace for the State parliament. He was well known for his jointless metal jugs, decorated with gum leaves and gumnuts. A member of the British Horological Institute, Sargison maintained the clocks at Government House in Hobart for four decades. In 1966 he moved his shop to premises in Liverpool Street.

Sargison was tall, lean and lantern-jawed; an early riser, he was a hard worker with apparently boundless energy and with the ability to improvise when necessary. He was a warm family man, who loved music. Affectionately known as ‘Sargie’, he had joined the Tasmanian Field Naturalists’ Club in 1914. On the committee from 1934 to 1958, he organised the club’s Easter camps for twenty years and became a life member in 1948. He was a member of the Royal Society of Tasmania and a board member of St Ann’s Homes. A long-serving member of the Rotary Club of Hobart, he was a Paul Harris fellow in 1980. He retired in his nineties, after supervising the making of a set of sterling silver serving spoons, commissioned in 1981 as a wedding gift from Tasmanians for Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Survived by his two daughters and a son, he died on 22 December 1983 in Hobart, and was cremated. His work is represented in public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Miley, Beautiful & Useful (1987)
  • A. Schofield and K. Fahy, Australian Jewellery (1990)
  • J. Fenton, A Century Afield (2004)
  • Saturday Evening Mercury (Hobart), 19 Nov 1966, p 11, 23 Oct 1976, p 43, 10 Oct 1981, p 14
  • Mercury (Hobart), 18 Apr 1983, p 4, 23 Dec 1983, p 2
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Janet Fenton, 'Sargison , Harold Francis (1885–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 1 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

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