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Gold mourning locket containing a photograph of Australian champion boxer Les Darcy, who died in 1917

2006.0041.0001

Gold mourning locket containing a photograph of Australian champion boxer Les Darcy, who died in 1917

Object information

Physical description

An oval mourning locket, nine carat gold, containing a black and white photograph of boxer Les Darcy and a lock of his hair. A monogram and '1917' are engraved inside a love-heart shape on the front, and '9 / .375' and an anchor hallmark are engraved on the back, which indicates it was assayed and marked at Birmington Assay Office in 1928. An engraved decorative floral border surrounds the markings. The locket has a suspender ring on the top, and the front and back are dented.

Statement of significance

The Kevin Hannan collection consists of material relating to the grieving of Winnie O'Sullivan over the death of her fiance, Australian champion boxer Les Darcy, in 1917. The collection is supported by 2 postcards and 6 photographs depicting Darcy's ill-fated boxing career in America, and friends and family of Winnie O'Sullivan central to the Darcy story throughout various periods of her life.

After rising to stardom as a champion boxer during the First World War period, Les Darcy became a political scapegoat of the first conscription referendum in 1916. A young, fit and healthy example of Australian masculinity, Darcy symbolized all males whom the greater public had deemed eligible for service and were shirking their duty of serving their country on the battlefield. Darcy subsequently left Australia to establish a boxing career in America, but died from septicaemia caused by a tooth infection in May 1917 at the age of 21. Although the material speaks something of Darcy's plight, it also reflects the ways in which Australians dealt with death, loss and mourning during the early twentieth century, but more importantly, during the devastating years of the First Word War.

Object information

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