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Billy Hughes paperweight

by an unknown artist

cast iron, painted

William Morris Hughes and George Reid were both popular targets for caricaturists - Hughes for the combination of his small frame, wizened face, large ears and pugnacious personality; and Reid for what colleague Alfred Deakin called ‘an immense, unwieldy jelly-like stomach' and ‘little legs apparently bowed beneath its weight’. The circumstances under which the Hughes souvenir was made are unknown, but examples exist in various public collections. Some visitors have recalled ‘paperweights’ such as the Hughes and Reid objects being used by street newspaper vendors to secure their wares in a breeze.

William Morris Hughes CH KC was Australia’s seventh prime minister, from 1915 to 1923. For the first two years he was Labor prime minister; he continued in the job as leader of the new Nationalist party. Hughes holds the record for the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, weathering a tumultuous 51 years and 7 months in the chamber.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Ric Techow and Jenny Techow-Coleman,
in memory of Roy and Bet Techow 2001
Accession number: 2001.17