• 21 Feb 2019 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    John McPhee is an art historian and was the founding Curator of Australian decorative arts and then Senior Curator at the NGA, and Deputy Director at the NGV. He is the author of books on colonial art and responsible for many exhibitions of Australian decorative art.

    For more information, visit events page of the David Roche Foundation website

  • 17 Sep 2018 3:17 PM | Anonymous

    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.

  • 30 Jul 2018 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    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.

    David Bedford and Jennifer Stuerzl

  • 26 Apr 2018 2:04 PM | Anonymous

    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.

  • 29 Sep 2017 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    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

  • 28 Sep 2017 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    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

  • 21 Feb 2017 12:25 PM | Anonymous

    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.

  • 25 Oct 2016 8:55 AM | Anonymous

    Featuring a collection of original wild flowers paintings from the 1890s, this exhibition highlights the partnership of amateur artist Gertrude Lovegrove and botanical collector William Bäuerlen. Set within the context of botanical illustration and collection in the late 19th century, the show reveals their ambitions and ultimately unsuccessful endeavour to produce a multi-part publication called The Wild Flowers of New South Wales.

    Location: Museum of Sydney

    Transport info: Public transport recommended. Museum of Sydney is one block from Circular Quay which is serviced by trains, buses and ferries.

    Price: Free with Museum of Sydney entry.

    Dates: 13 August - 20 November 2016

  • 21 Oct 2016 8:25 AM | Anonymous

    Convict Love Token Exhibition at M.A.D.E.

    An exhibition of 45 love tokens is on display at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.) in Ballarat and it runs from 7 October to the 21 January 2017. This is possibly the largest private collection of these tokens in the world.

    When convicts learnt their fate of being transported some made keepsakes by scratching a message on a small piece of copper. The most common pieces of copper were the 1797 Cartwheel British pennies made at Matthew Boulton’s Soho Factory in Birmingham, as they were an ideal size being 34mm, readily available and affordable. The tokens at the time were known as ‘leaden hearts’ and were made in prison workshops. The convicts gave them to loved ones and family members prior to their transportation to Australia. We do not know how many were made as they were unofficial but they are now rare.

    The Museum’s CEO, Sarah Masters, and its curator, Cash Brown, fully understood how to display these objects. They have the right lighting and numbered cards corresponding to the number given to each token. The cards have the written text that is engraved on the token and enlarged images of both sides of the keepsake. Some cards have the story of the convict on the flip side.

    Not all tokens are dated but those that do range from 1791 to 1843. The youngest convict was aged just thirteen, and most were in their twenties and thirties.

    Visit M.A.D.E. to see this excellent exhibition over summer and while in Ballarat have a look at the coins in the Gold Museum. It was established by the late Paul Simon, a former President of the Numismatic Association of Victoria.

    The Love Token Exhibition will interest Australiana enthusiasts, numismatists, history buffs, and genealogists with a convict ancestry. Also on display at M.A.D.E. are recently made bonnets to represent the 25,566 female convicts transported to Australia.


    The display of love tokens T. Brownhill love token Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka

    MADE is open 7 days, 10 am - 5pm. 

    102 Stawell Street South, Ballarat, VIC 3350. 

    See full details at made.org.

  • 21 Sep 2016 1:17 PM | Anonymous

    On Tuesday, this week, a gold bracelet by Christian Ludwig Qwist (active Sydney 1863-65) sold at an auction in the UK for more than $120,000, inclusive of buyers premium (IBP). 

    The bracelet was one of three pieces consigned to the UK auction house by a vendor associated with the descendants of Hugh Hamilton (1822 - 1900), a pioneer who arrived in 1841 and settled on land next to the Lachlan River in NSW. He established the Tomanbil and Boyd cattle stations but a severe drought in 1849 forced the closure of the stations. He then worked as the assistant gold commissioner in Ophir before finally returning to farming. Hugh Hamilton was the younger son of the Hamiltons of Sundrum in Ayshire, UK. 

    The gold bracelet was decorated with oxidised figures of an Aborigine, kangaroo and emu surrounded by finely engraved scrollwork and engraved with the initials AMD. The catalogue entry speculated that the initials belonged to Hugh Hamilton's first cousin Anna Maria Dundas, daughter of James Dundas of Dundas and his wife Lady Mary Duncan, daughter of Viscount Camperdown, the celebrated Admiral.

    The second piece was a gold brooch attributed to Hogarth and Erichsen, circa 1860, oval shaped with kangaroo, emu and native flora. The brooch sold for approximately $30,000 IBP (a similar brooch, slightly smaller, with only a kangaroo and flora, sold for $13,640 in November 2014). 

    The lowest priced item at approximately $4,000 IBP was a pair of gold ear pendants, attributed to Hogarth, Erichsen & Co., one pendant decorated with kangaroo and flora and the other with emu and flora.

    All three pieces came with what appeared to be the original boxes and the strong provenance no doubt adding to the desirability.