AUGUST BRUNKHORST: One of Adelaide’s First

Four piece sterling silver tea service consisting of a two handled tray, a teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl, made by Brunkhorst of Adelaide - photo by Carter's Price Guide to Antiques and Collectables

This August Ludwig Brunkhorst, the successor to Henry Steiner was another notable silverware dealer in Adelaide, Australia. Brunkhorst arrived in Australia from Germany in 1875. In his first days in Australia, he worked with the great Henry Steiner as a silversmith before Steiner went back home to Germany. Later, he joined Kindermann & Co. in 1877 and the firm that then became known as Kindermann & Brunkhorst. It is unclear when and why this partnership was dissolved. It is known that Brunkhorst worked for Steiner for some time before Steiner’s departure.

A late Victorian Australian silver Drink Flask by August Brunkhorst with his mark on the bottom – photo by Peter Cameron Antique Silver

After the famous collapse of the Australian economy in the late 1870s and early 1880s, that resulted from severe financial depression and drought, and the loss of Steiner’s wife and two children in 1883 from a typhoid epidemic, Steiner decided to sell off his business. The buyer was August Brunkhorst, who was his employee and he returned home to Germany in 1884. Later in 1887, Steiner returned to Adelaide after the collapse of several Australian banks that he had significant investments in. He stayed on for another two years and then returned again back to Germany where he lived till his death on 24th July 1914.

About Brunkhorst’s Predecessor, Steiner

J. Henry Steiner was born in Rodenberg, near Hanover, Germany in 1835. He moved to Adelaide in 1858, and founded his business, silver business, in 1860, on Rundle Street, on the same street with his stiff competitor Matthias Joachim Wendt. Steiner was a very prolific silversmith, and similarly to his great rival Joachim Wendt; he exhibited at many of the great 19th century exhibitions across the world. In Adelaide, it took him a short time before making his name which led to his enjoying the patronage of governors and other elites, who were even showing his best creations at exhibitions across Australia and overseas.


A late Victorian Australian silver Drink Flask, Adelaide, by August Brunkhorst – photo by Peter Cameron Antique Silver

Just like his predecessor, Steiner, Brunkhorst must have dealt with goods that were very marketable then in Austraila such as the: epergnes, scent bottles, miniature Aboriginal figures, and various symbols of Australian flora and fauna, such as emu and kangaroo, which some created the effect of some kind of miniature diorama.

So, after his purchase of the Henry Steiner business, Brunkhorst is thought to must have continued with Steiner’s legacy of making and selling high-quality silverwares; he was the guardian to most of the Steiner’s works, and maybe contributed to the surviving of the many remaining works that we see today.

The business premises formerly owned by Henry Steiner’s, Rundle Street was renumbered in 1892 from the number 106 to number 110. At this point in address alteration, the business had already been sold to August Brunkhorst by Steiner in 1884. The business was again sold by August Brunkhorst to Caris Brothers before his death in 1919, at the age of seventy-one years.

About the Caris Brothers

An Australian silver heart shaped bookmark by August Ludwig Brunkhorst, Adelaide, circa 1890 – photo by Bonhams

Caris Brothers Jewellers was located in the Hay Street Mall in Perth, but it was found elsewhere, in Goldfields. The original owners of the Caris Brothers where the grandparents of the present Caris generation, most of whom are now residing in England. One of the surviving member of the Caris family is Lloyd Caris whose knowledge of the family’s silver business was through a small advertisement of a jewellery shop that was run by his family somewhere in Australia, WA Goldfields. He did not know anything more but was helped by friends to locate where it used to be in Perth Australia many years after the demise of his grandparents.

Today, the building that was occupied by the Caris brothers still stands unoccupied but retains the black tiles at the bottom of the windows which are the original ones that are very visible in the older surviving photos. Even when closely checked, there seems to be a reflection of the photographer in the door.

An Australian silver goblet by August Ludwig Brunkhorst, Adelaide, circa 1910 – photo by Carter’s Price Guide to Antiques and Collectables

Caris brother’s silver business was initially set up by Lloyds Caris’ grandfather, Stanley Caris, under his own name but by 1897, he had partnered his brother, John Dove Caris. Their shop was in Bayley Street Coolgardie, Perth. Stanley had married Annie Ridley Rewcastle on April 1st, 1896 at St Andrews Church, Coolgardie. They were both 22yrs old. Stanley gave his address as Lindsay St, Coolgardie but Annie gave her address as Gateshead, Northumberland England. Her father was Henry French Rewcastle, Colliery Manager and her mother was Margaret Ramsey. Stanley gave his father name as John Dove Caris, Jeweller, and his mother as Rebecca Kennedy.

Lloyds father, Stanley Dove Caris, was born in Kalgoorlie in 1900. There were two other children born, Aydon Gordon Caris in Perth 1905 and Margaret Constance Caris in 1898 in Perth. Stanley’s brother, John, was married to Mary Murtough, and they had a daughter, Kathleen Mildred, born in Perth. By 1905, the brothers had shops in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie and Barrack Street, in Perth. The advertisement that was with Lloyd Caris also says that the branch on the advertisement was run by Lloyds great grandfather. There is much evidence that shows that the brothers sold the businesses in 1924.

Caris Brothers’ Jubilee

An Australian silver teapot by August Ludwig Brunkhorst, c.1890 – photo by Carter’s Price Guide to Antiques and Collectables

In the recent past, Messrs Caris Bros Ltd celebrated their golden jubilee, it being just 50 years since their establishment. Throughout the whole of the period, the name of Caris Bros, has been favourably known as standing for all that is best in jewellers quality goods. The business, which was purchased by Mr. George Ledger in 1924, has made rapid strides, and flourishing branches are at Kalgoorlie and Bunbury. In Perth, too, the store has been gradually extended. Caris Bros will celebrate its golden jubilee with a more than usually attractive sale.

Summing Up

There is not much known about August Brunkhorst and his business, but many historians and museums are trying to fill in the gaps and recover any of the pieces that he sold or made in his business that lasted from 1884 to the time of his death in 1919. However, It is generally agreed that he followed the steps of his predecessor Henry Steiner.