Inside the Collection

Tag: 19th century

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

June 18, 2015

Tilly Boleyn
On 18 June 1815, over 140,000 soldiers fought at the Battle of Waterloo where Napoleon, the French Emperor, was finally defeated in his plans to control Europe. The victory at Waterloo by the British Duke of Wellington and Britain’s allies was the final battle of many in the long French and Napoleonic Wars spanning from 1793 to 1815.

The Compressed Air washing machine

January 30, 2015

Margaret Simpson
This space age looking piece of domestic technology, reminiscent of Mr Squiggle's rocket, is a manually operated washing machine made in Melbourne by Echberg, Wolter and Company in about 1879 and marketed as the 'compressed air' machine.

Treasures from the collection: Scrimshaw

January 23, 2015

Anni Turnbull
Scrimshandering, Schrimshonter, schrimshander or scrimshaw as we know it, is the art of carving or decorating whale bone, whales teeth and walrus tusks. The Museum has eclectic and fascinating collections from parasols to fans, netsuke and scrimshaw.

The Wirth brothers — from band to circus

December 22, 2014

Peter Cox
After leaving Ridge's Royal Tycoon Circus in 1880 the Wirth brothers established themselves as the Star Troupe of Varieties. With just six artists, including Japanese acrobats and a German comedian, they assembled a program of acrobatics, clowning, contortion, spinning hats, boxing and comic songs.

Wirth’s Circus — musical beginnings

December 3, 2014

Peter Cox
Johannes Wirth (1835-1880) was a young immigrant from Bavaria who arrived in Australia in 1855 with his three younger brothers. They were musicians who performed as a German brass band. Johannes took to the life of an itinerant gold seeker, travelling with his wife and infants, following rush after rush to the gold fields, all the way from southern Victoria to the north of Queensland.

Pacific objects in focus #4: ‘Wasekaseka’ whale’s tooth neckpiece

November 13, 2014

Melanie Pitkin
If I had to single out one of my favourite pieces of Pacific ornament being showcased in A fine possession: jewellery and identity, it would have to be the wasekaseka neckpiece. Comprising twenty-six sperm whale’s teeth split lengthways, the wasekaseka is among Fiji’s best known types of jewellery that were typically made by Tongan and Samoan craftsmen who lived there.

Pacific objects in focus #3: New Zealand hei-tiki

October 22, 2014

Melanie Pitkin
The hei-tiki is the most famous of all Maori jewellery items. Humanoid in shape, they are typically characterised by a tilting head, huge, gaping open mouth, large, bulbous eyes, splayed hips with arms akimbo and a pronounced and often dilated vulval area (Starzeka 1996: p.43)*.

A sampler from the Australian Gold Rush

July 2, 2014

Lynne McNairn
The detail above is from a cross stitch sampler in our collection titled ‘'The Emigrants Farewell and The Emigrants Prayer'. Stitched along the top of the piece in very faded red thread (which does not really show in the image below) are the words “This work presented by Maria Tilley to her son John in Australia July 28th 1854" The date is significant because the 1850s were the time of the great gold rushes in eastern Australia.

Inspired by the Museum’s collection- creating a gold rush dress

May 7, 2014

Nicole Balmer
  It was gold rush day at my daughter’s school. One of the most exciting days of her year – damper making, tent building and gold panning – all without even leaving the playground.  The most exciting part though was the chance to dress up.

Love and jewellery

February 14, 2014

Rebecca Evans
Love it or hate it, it’s Valentine’s Day! A day that has celebrated romantic love in the West since the Middle Ages, it is often marked with the giving of gifts as tokens of love. Love and jewellery have long been associated with each other, from betrothal to mourning; it has been given and worn to show passion, devotion and loss.