Queensland Chapter of the Australiana Society
First ‘show and tell’ Meeting, 27th March 2019
Attendance: 9 people attended the meeting
Item 1 A transfer printed ‘steak and kidney pie’ dish with illustrations front and back.
Although the owner of this item has an historical connection with the hotel, the dish came to them by a roundabout route. It was found buried at another site in Brisbane by a person digging a hole in the ground. That person retrieved the dish whole, and presented it to the present owner’s father, who was the licensee of the hotel at that time. Approximately 150 mm diameter.
Item 2 An oil on canvas still life painting Peaches, Melon and Grapes by William Frances Emery, 1869.
Australiana connection: William Frances Emery is believed to be the painter who produced, but did not sign, the famous early painting of Ipswich from Limestone Hill. There are historical records that Emery produced oil paintings for numerous early farmsteads and stations in Queensland, but none of those paintings have been found.
Item 3 Cheese Coaster.
Approximately 450 mm wide.
Described by the owner as “This is an Australian Cedar cheese coaster probably dating from about 1840. I haven’t seen another. I bought it at an antique fair in 2018. It was in poor condition and had lost its original finish. The dealer told me she sourced it from a Melbourne auction (Philips) some decades ago.” The owner also noted that although further provenance information was promised by the dealer that never eventuated.
Item 4 An Australian sterling silver four-sconce epergne made in Brisbane by FJ Mole.
Maker's stamp to underneath base.
This quite substantial item (approx. 250 mm tall) has a weighted base. It is inscribed “To Mr & Mrs Fisher, from Belmont Friends, 30/10/26 . Mr Mole’s establishment was on Stanley St, East Brisbane up until at least the 1970s.
Item 5 Sterling silver christening mug made by Hilliard & Thomason, Birmingham hallmarked 1870-1, 85mm high, 61g.
Engraved presentation reads: PHF Smith/ from his father/ Gympie/ Augst 23rd 1873.
Information from the Courier newspaper etc. reveals that Percival Henry Foord Smith was born at Coorooey [sic] Cottage Gympie on 23 Aug 1873. His father was Henry Halliday Smith, a newsagent and stationer in Gympie, and his mother was Laura Ann (nee Courport) who were married at St Andrews church Lutwyche, Brisbane 16 Nov 1872.
On the right-hand side is the word BRAND. The reverse is plain leather.
The purpose of the item is unclear but appears to be designed to attach to something via a string or leather thong.
The buyer was told by the seller that the tag was to be used in despatching wool. The buyer believes may be unlikely, as sheep are not usually branded, so where would the brand be obtained from to mark the tag?
Any assistance would be appreciated in clarifying the use of these tags. Please respond to the email address below if you have suggestions and they will be passed on to the owner of the item.
One response to this query to date: Sheep may not be branded but wool bales can be, either with the type of wool or the owner.
Item 7 Queensland Railway Union (North Brisbane Branch) 8 (hours of work) ribbon made of cloth and bullion wire, 13cm by 5 cm. Safety pin suspender.
Probably worn by union supporters/officials at a Brisbane 8 Hours Day parade. It may date to the c.1920's. The State Library of Queensland has an interest blog on these parades complete with photos of the floats and participants.
Item 8 French bronze dish and letter opener with eucalypt decoration.
Dish is 225mm long.
Le Royer -- Coupe Papier & Vide Poche ‘Eucalyptus’. Matching pair of Art Nouveau bronze letter opner and pen tray, each modelled with gum leaves and gum nuts, circa 1900.
Item 9 Bronze Medal, Sydney International Exhibition 1879.
Inscribed “P & S EVANS, FIRST AWARD”.
The International Exhibition was housed in a purpose-built building on Macquarie St. The building burned down in 1882 and the grounds now form part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. This medal has a good patina and is 75 mm diameter. Research into the reason for the award is continuing.
David Bedford and Jennifer Stuerzl
Convenors, Australiana Queensland
Acknowledgement: This initial report has been modelled on those produced for many years by the SA Australiana Study Group, but is less detailed at this stage.
AUSTRALIANA SOCIETY – TASMANIAN CHAPTER EVENT REPORT
Report by Scott Carlin, Tasmanian Chapter Committee
The Australiana Society – Tasmanian Chapter held a successful event at Dowling House, the Launceston home of Mrs Caryl McQuestin, on Saturday 23 March 2019. The event, attended by 75 people, combined a cocktail party with series of short expert presentations that covered the wide-ranging permutations of Australiana, with a distinct northern Tasmanian flavour.
The program started with eminent architectural historian, Dr Eric Ratcliffe, providing a history of our venue Dowling House, which was constructed c. 1840. While the house has been attributed to the Bennell family of builders, no evidence has been found to support this. The house has built for newspaper publisher, Henry Dowling, the son of Baptist Minister, the Rev. Henry Dowling and brother of Robert Hawker Dowling, the first Australian artist to have a successful career in England. Dr Ratcliffe referred to an early view of the house by artist, Frederick Strange, which shows the original red brick façade, which was soon after rendered and enhanced by classical mouldings. Dowling House presents a highly intact element of the Launceston streetscape but Dr Ratcliffe detailed the restoration that has made it so – the subtraction of a later front veranda and the reinstatement of glazing bars after decades of plate glass windows.
Following further drinks and canapés, Tasmanian Chapter Chairman, Colin Thomas, spoke on scrimshaw. The core of Colin’s collection is on exhibition at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania but Colin still had choice items to show. Michael McWilliams then spoke, not on Thylacines or sheep, but on the Deloraine - Westbury region vernacular chair ascribed to the shadowy Jimmy Possum. Michael introduced us to chairs made from the same timbers and following the same construction by the Deloraine horse breeder, William Larcombe (1862-1920s). Thus the mythic became more tangible. Michael brought along a handsome Jimmy Possum chair from his parents’ collection.
Jeanette Gatenby spoke on an early agricultural trophy from her family collection opening a window onto an untrammelled aspect of Australian pastoral history – the provenance of our merino flocks. Mary Ramsay spoke on pioneer studio potter, Maude Poynter’s 1917 studio at Ratho Bothwell, and was followed by Glenda King who spoke warmly of Maude Poynter’s artistic formation, work and contribution to a broader studio pottery movement. Dennis Patten closed the talks with a presentation on the British-made transfer-printed ceramics commissioned by Tasmanian shipping lines. As Dennis explained, these were related to dining ware produced for hotels but are rarer owing to the transience of the vessels for which they were made. Hence part of his collection has been salvaged from shipwrecks.
Hospitality was the order of the afternoon and the Tasmanian Chapter would like to thank Caryl McQuestin for providing a beautiful house and courtyard garden setting with excellent wine and catering. Annabel Tyson coordinated first ‘northern’ event. It was, perhaps, a baptism of fire but a format that we would like to repeat. Thank you Annabel! The quality of the event was reflected in 15 new Australiana Society memberships.
Plate 1: L to R, Our host, Mrs Caryl McQuestin and Scott Carlin; Dowling House, 181 St John Street Launceston
Plate 2: L to R, Colin Thomas' talk on scrimshaw; Michael McWilliams with his parents' Jimmy Possum chair; Jeanette Gatenby and the early agricultural trophy
Plate 3: L to R, Glenda King with her biography of Maude Poynter; Dennis Patten's talk on shipping lines ceramics; A Dowling House chimney piece
Australiana Society Victorian Chapter Launch
The Victorian Chapter of the Australiana Society was launched on Sunday 17 February 2019 at the Templestowe home of newly appointed Victorian Chair Robert Stevens. Over 55 people attended an enjoyable afternoon tea on a beautiful, sunny day in Melbourne, at which many old friendships were renewed and new ones made.
Tasmanian Chair Colin Thomas and Queensland Chair David Bedford were in attendance, as were many Australiana Society members, and representatives of the Furniture History Society, Brighton Antique Club, Silver Society, Needlework Tool Collector’s Society and Australiana Fund. This support, so important for the building of confidence, enthusiasm and endeavour.
After a brief welcoming address, which declared the formation of the Chapter, and acknowledged the wonderful support evident, followed by a pleasing afternoon tea, Robert gave a presentation on his collection of paintings and drawings by Convict Artists. In his address Robert also praised the magnificent ideals of the Australiana Society which embrace the Researching, Preserving and Collecting of Australia’s Heritage, and its world class periodical “Australiana” edited by John Wade. In addition, Robert gave details of the Chapter’s next function, a private viewing, in Werribee, of Committeeman Bill Cullen’s incredible collection of Australian furniture & general Australiana, and a tour of Werribee Park Mansion led by the eminent Terence Lane. Finally, attendees were invited to view Robert’s Convict Art Collection. Colin Thomas gave an expression of thanks.
Many stayed on to enjoy the discussions and camaraderie. Everybody agreed this was a very enjoyable day and a most successful Launch.
Plate 1. L to R, The venue – The residence of Robert Stevens; Members arrive with with afternoon tea “goodies”; Robert officially launching the Victorian Chapter.
Plate 2. L to R, Viewing of Robert's colonial paintings; Robert's talk on his collection.
On 13 March 2019, following the successful launch of the Victoria Chapter in February, over 50 people attended an equally successful Werribee tour. Included were a viewing of Bill Cullen’s wonderful collection, a visit to Charmaine Wakefield’s classic “Water Fall” home set in 4 acres of historical gardens, and a Terence Lane led tour of Werribee Park Mansion. Another magnificent day attended by a large, enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of Australiana Society members and friends.
Plate 3. Viewing of Bill Cullen's collection
Plate 4. L to R, Viewing of Bill Cullen's collection; Werribee Park Mansion tour led by Terence Lane.
A lecture on Australian colonial furniture by John McPhee will be held at the David Roche Foundation in Adelaide on Thursday, 21 February, 6pm to 7.15pm.
The lecture will consider the history of colonial furniture scholarship and examine some of the problems that still puzzle us.
How many sideboards did Governor Macquarie own? Why can we not identify more colonial cabinetmakers? Where did exotic timbers for stringing or gilded slips come from? Can we be certain it is cedar? Could that chair be Indian?
Our knowledge of colonial cabinetmaking is small. There are more questions than answers, and it sometimes seems that much will remain unknown. Being aware of what we do not know puts us in a stronger position to look at colonial furniture with clear eyes.
For more information, visit events page of the David Roche Foundation website
The Society had a stand at the AAADA Antiques Fair in Sydney held last month. Thanks to all the volunteers who kindly spent a morning or afternoon attending to the stand, promoting the Society and assisting with our membership drive.
Colin Thomas, our dedicated chair from the Tasmanian Chapter of the Society was one of the speakers for the lecture series at the fair. Colin's talk on Tasmaniana was well attended. Colin is pictured below speaking on the section dealing with scrimshaw. Colin is a leading expert on scrimshaw and its historical context in Van Diemens' Land.
Respected dealer and Australiana Society member, John Hawkins was another speaker and John's session on furniture was delivered as a walking tour through the stands of the fair, highlighting furniture of note. The picture below shows John providing the audience with an overview of colonial furniture at Andrew Simpson's stand.
Australiana Queensland outing to Miegunyah 13 June 2018
Fifteen members and guests attended the meeting at The Queensland Women’s Historical Association (QWHA) historic house museum, Miegunyah (http://www.miegunyah.org/). Built in 1886, Miegunyah is an elegant Queenslander style timber house built by a wealthy family for their son. It is richly decorated with cast iron lace made specifically for the house.
It was a perfect winter’s day in Brisbane as we were seated at tables set on the wide veranda and treated to home-made scones with leaf tea or plunger coffee. QWHA members talked knowledgeably about the house and its history, the history of the families that had lived there and the surrounding area of Bowen Hills.
Our tour of the house and some highlights of the collection was guided by society member Dr Judith McKay, who is very knowledgeable about the house and its extraordinary collection. Dr McKay prepared a significance assessment of the collection undertaken under the guidelines of the National Library of Australia’s Community Heritage Grant program (http://www.miegunyah.org/pdf_files/2016%20Significance%20Assessment%20of%20the%20QWHA%20collection%20Report.pdf). We learned from Dr McKay that the QWHA was the first organisation in Queensland to actively collect material and items relating to white settler history. Because of that early start and the enthusiasm of its members their privately held collection remains extremely important today. Australiana Society members are encouraged to visit the Association’s website and download the illustrated significance report as these provide an excellent introduction to the museum (links above).
As Dr McKay writes in her report “Many of the association’s early members were related to notable pioneers, enabling it to collect material associated with early premiers and other politicians, professionals, senior public servants, pioneer pastoralists and the like. Other material was given by members who were notable in their own right, while some material was obtained by making direct approaches to descendants of governors, etc. At the time the QWHA had few competitors in Queensland actively collecting historical material hence it managed to secure material of outstanding significance that would normally have gone to state collections.”
The house museum and its collection are maintained by the hard work and efforts of the members of the QWHA, supplemented only by the occasional grant of specific purpose funds. The entry fee and the charges for Devonshire Tea on the veranda provides the bulk of their income.
The house and its collection are relatively unrecognised and are deserving of much greater support. We encourage all society members visiting Queensland to include Miegunyah in their itinerary. The museum is open on Wednesdays 10.30 to 3 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10.30 to 4 pm. Visits on other days may be possible by prior arrangement. The bulk of their approximately 15,000 item collection is in storage so if members have specific interests in material not usually on show (e.g. quilts, costume) it would be wise to contact the Association to negotiate access prior to your visit.
Australian Community War Memorials on Ceramic Ware
A fascinating talk by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Simadas on local memorials of the Great War and how their depiction on ceramics was a sensitive reminder of the importance of remembering.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Simadas will present a historical overview of Australian community war memorials, the distinctive types built, how they evolved and the unique characteristics of Australian war memorials found in parks, hospitals, town squares, schools, community centres and more.
A feature of the evening will be a display of his intriguing collection of small ceramic wares portraying images of these Australian war memorials. Items range from plates, dishes cups, shaving mugs to miniature clock and bell towers. These are a wonderful and sensitive ‘Memorial’ in their own right.
In all the years Paul has been collecting he has never found a piece depicting memorials in Tasmania. Perhaps someone out there has one?
Free event and refreshments are provided. Bookings essential via events page of Mosman Council.
Wednesday 16 May, 7-8.30pm
Barry O'Keefe Library, Mosman, NSW.
Narratives of Nations - The Australiana Fund & The White House Historical Association
Narratives of Nations is a unique opportunity to learn more about two significant cultural organisations - The Australiana Fund and the White House Historical Association.
The White House Historical Association's David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History is focussed on the history of the White House through educational outreach.
Dr. Curtis Sandberg, Director of the David M. Rubenstein National Center for the White House History will discuss the history of the White House Historical Association and its mission, emphasizing the key role of the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History. With its dynamic education programs, resources offered by a staff of historians, a cutting edge digital library, a large selection of public programs, and exhibitions highlighting the history of the Executive Mansion, the Center is an invaluable asset to discovering and understanding this essential symbol of America's heritage.
The Australiana Fund is launching a major new book, Collecting for the Nation about its collection and Australia's four official residences within which it is on display and use.
Several of the book's distinguished panel of authors will speak about the narratives revealed in the histories of the residences and the collection, offering new perspectives on Australia's history through cultural heritage.
For more information: Narratives of Nations
Date and time: Fri, 29 September 2017, 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: National Museum of Australia, Lawson Crescent, Acton ACT 2601
A Brief History of Mourning & Sentimental Jewellery - A talk by Sarah Nehama, international art historian
This presentation will cover the history of mourning jewellery from the mid-17th century to the early 20th century and examine its place in society, primarily in England and America, but with examples from Australia, France, and Germany also shown. Connections to memento mori and sentimental jewellery (matrimonial, friendship, and other tokens of esteem) will be explained, and Sarah will show a variety of styles found within the genre such as rococo, neoclassical, Regency, and Gothic revival. Sarah will also present examples of different materials common throughout the history of mourning jewellery including hair, enamel, gemstones, painted portrait miniatures, and photographs. Finally, she will discuss some of the reasons why a 250-year mourning jewellery industry fell out of favor at the turn of the 20th century and some of the common misconceptions about mourning jewellery that exist today.
Where: The David Roche Foundation House Museum, 241 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide SA 5006. Limited parking available onsite
When: Thursday 28 September 2017, @ 6.00 PM. Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: $25 (including a glass of wine)
Numbers limited. Book early to avoid disappointment
Sarah Nehama has a degree in Art History and has been creating one-of-a-kind studio jewellery for over 25 years. She has lived and worked in Boston, Los Angeles, and now has her workshop in the Providence, Rhode Island area.
Sarah is an avid collector of antique mourning and sentimental jewellery and in 2012, co-curated an exhibition with the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston of mourning jewellery and art, and authored the companion book for the exhibit entitled, In Death Lamented: The Tradition of Anglo-American Mourning Jewelry. Sarah has lectured at numerous historical and jewelry societies in the U.S. and presented a webinar for the American Society of Appraisers on mourning and sentimental jewellery.
For further information: Event details
Scrimshaw - the Art of the Mariner
Whaling in Tasmanian waters was Australia's leading export industry pre-1840. Narryna, the 1830s house of merchant, shipbuilder and whaler, Captain Andrew Haig, presents an exhibition of scrimshaw masterworks from the collection of Colin Thomas. This is one of the finest private collections of scrimshaw worldwide. See all manner of scrimshandering from sailors' gifts to their sweethearts to tools for maintaining the majestic rigging of the whaling ships.
This exhibition does not support the continuance of whaling.
Location: Narryna Heritage Museum, Battery Point, Tasmania
Exhibition is on until 28 May 2017.
Peter Walker Award