Award-winning Sheffield cabinet could be heading home

Furniture piece by Arthur Hayball. The piece is by master craftsman Arthur Hayball. This piece was the Gold Medal Winner for Furniture, Upholstery, Paper Hangings, Papier-Mach� and Japanned goods in the Great Exhibition of 1851 - Crystal Palace, London.
Furniture piece by Arthur Hayball. The piece is by master craftsman Arthur Hayball. This piece was the Gold Medal Winner for Furniture, Upholstery, Paper Hangings, Papier-Mach� and Japanned goods in the Great Exhibition of 1851 - Crystal Palace, London.
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IT FOUND success at one of the biggest exhibitions the country has ever seen - and was later flown halfway around the world to be with a furniture collector in Australia.

But this grand, Sheffield-made wooden cabinet could now be coming back home as it goes under the hammer for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The 8ft high cabinet is carved and lined in English walnut and was manufactured by master craftsman Arthur Hayball, who taught at the Sheffield School of Design.

Hayball entered the piece at the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the enormous Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, and was awarded a gold medal for his efforts.

The cabinet’s door features a carving of goddess Athena, patron of arts and crafts, while ornate decorations cover the sides, including depictions of cupids, birds and squirrels.

Hayball worked on the exhibition entry in his spare time,.

It was eventually bought by a collector in Llandudno, Wales, before being picked up by Australian politician Sir Philip McBride.

In 1983 the piece entered another private collection. It is expected to fetch up to 100,000 Australian dollars at the auction on May 6.

Hayball went on to design church interiors in Ireland, America and Spain, but died suddenly in 1887.

Jim Elder, from Elder Fine Art in Adelaide, which is handling the sale, said the cabinet could be one of the most important pieces of antique furniture in Sheffield’s history.

“It was entered into our auction, however from much research a signature was found on the piece and it was discovered just how important a cabinet it was and what the cabinet had achieved so long ago,” Mr Elder said.

n Visit www.elderfineart.com.au to view the item’s auction catalogue entry.