Queen Gooseberry’s rum mug, c. 1800
Frederick Wymark, of Angus & Robertson, Booksellers, regularly visited David Scott Mitchell when he was bedridden at the end of his life. During one visit, Mitchell described this mug to him and said that it had been given to Gooseberry to collect her allowance of rum. Mitchell then asked Wymark to hand it down to him and he held it in deep admiration and contemplation for about five minutes before passing it back.
The bronze mug, welded down one side with a welded base, has a semi-circular handle attached with pins to its upper edge. ‘Queen Gooseberry’ and ‘King Bungaree’ were well-known Sydney characters during the Macquarie era and both were frequently sketched and painted. Governor Macquarie dubbed them with these fictitious titles in an attempt to create Aboriginal ‘leaders’ with whom he could negotiate, illustrating how little Europeans understood about the complex structures of Indigenous society.