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National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Convict Love Token collection no. 1(3)

    Convict love token for James Godfrey
    Convict love token for Abraham Lawley
    Convict love token for Thomas Lock

    This collection is comprised of three convict love tokens, made from stiple-engraved, shaved down 1797 pennies: The first (circa 1830) has the words "Thomas/Lock/aged 22/Transptd/10 Years" on the front and "When/ This You/ See/ Remember/ Me When/ Far/ From The(e)" on the reverse. The second, has the words "James/Godfrey/ Hannah/ Jones, T.Boulton, S.Stevens" on the front and "When in/ Captivity/ Time/Goeth/ Very Slow But/ Free As Air/ to roan now/ Quick the/ time/Doth/ Go" on the reverse.. The final token is engraved with "A/L A/P" either side of a balloon and on the reverse "Abraham Law/ In Y 20. Transporte/d Agakeep/ Ann Pemb/uttom 1828".

    Convict love tokens, typically made of smoothed down coins and engraved or stippled with a message, provide a poignant, personal insight into the transportation system, as well as its transnational character. Also known as 'leaden hearts', the tokens stem from traditional sailors' farewells. Convict tokens were made for the whole of the Transportation period in New South Wales and Tasmania, with the majority produced during the 1820s and 1830s. As objects purposely made by or for convicts to give as mementoes, to be left behind when the prisoner was transported, the tokens are a unique part of the record of a convict's transportation experience.

  • Bill Reid - John Cawte collection(47)

    Emu egg carved with image of a man in a hat by Bill Reid, 1998
    Emu egg carved with image of a man's face and animals by Bill Reid
    Emu egg carved with image of Alva Reid by Bill Reid
    Emu egg carved with images of a possum and two kangaroos by Bill Reid

    The Bill Reid - John Cawte Collection comprises a series of emu eggs carved by William 'Bill' Reid (1917 -1993), a renowned Gamilaraay artist from northern-central NSW. The collection contains sixteen emu eggs - fourteen carved, one partly carved and one uncarved. They feature representations of Truganinni, Mum Shirl, the Ella brothers, Bill Reid, Albert Namatjiria and Tony Mundine, Alva Reid - Bill Reid's daughter, as well as John Cawte and Betty Watts (John Cawte's wife).
    The collection also includes Reid's innovative system for internally illuminating each carved egg, consisting of a light stand on a circular cork board with a plastic batten holder and cord, sixteen plastic batten holders, sixteen switch cases, sixteen "push button or bell press" mechanisms, a tungsten 15 watt clear light bulb, seventeen plastic "Caf�© HAG" coffee jar lids.

    The collection is significant as constituting a rare series of representations of prominent Indigenous people and other figures undertaken by a renowned Aboriginal artist. As a set of carved emu eggs it is also an important contribution to the National Museum's collection of 20th century Indigenous craft objects. The collection compliments an existing NHC collection of six carved eggs depicting prominent Indigenous figures also carved by Reid.

  • Benny Zable collection no. 2(137)

    Photograph and newsclippings of Benny Zable at Roxby Downs
    The Tree Lament
    Colour photograph of Benny Zable in costume protesting

    The Benny Zable collections comprise a diverse range of large and small objects, including a blue Ford XA panel van, conical road markers, protest banners and badges, costumes, photographs, political posters, leaflets, letters, placards, legal documents and documents. These objects were donated to the Museum by environmental protester, peace activist and performing artist, Benny Zable.

    Born in 1945 and raised in a Jewish family in Melbourne, the tragic senselessness of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War was the first in a series of life changing experiences for Zable who journeyed to Israel in 1968 to work on a kibbutz on the Lebanese border. This transformational experience was followed by visits to London and Paris, which, at that time, were witnessing the rise of counter culture and peace movements. The Paris student uprising in 1968 was a watershed event precipitating the largest general strike ever recorded, bringing France to a virtual standstill. The World Symposium on Humanities in Los Angeles, which Zable attended in 1979, coincided with the America's worst nuclear accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. On his return to Australia, Zable became active in anti-nuclear protest organization, Nomadic Action Group (NAG). Using his artistic and performative skills, Zable developed a caricature costume of the grim reaper "I visualised a dark character with a skull head, "Greedozer" to portray the ugly side of civilisation". A pedestal, formed from black painted forty-four gallon drums, allowed for extra height from which to hang protest banners. On receiving an Australia Council for the Arts grant, Zable developed a road show, transporting his costume and toxic tower statue, to which he had added a PA system, a mike in the gas mask, a video display unit and tape deck, in a blue Ford panel van. After touring Australia, Zable travelled first to Asia and then the US, before returning to Australia and settling in Nimbin, northern New South Wales. Benny Zable has been continuously active in protest movements spanning three decades. Most recently, while acting as creative director for New York's Ecofest and attending the UN's International Vigil for peace, Benny brought his performance and costume to support the 2011 New York 'Occupy Wall Street' protest in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. This protest sparked a series of massive global protest movements among disaffected citizens throughout the world, prompting a remarkable move by Time Magazine to nominate 'The Protester' as its 2011 'Person of the Year'.

  • Timothy Millett collection(313)

    Convict love token from J.M., 1838
    Convict love token from F. Buck, 1830
    Convict love token engraved with the initials J.T. and S.B., 1827
    Convict love token from Edward Kershaw, 1834

    The Timothy Millett collection comprises 307 convict love tokens dating from 1762 to 1856, and seven contemporary documents relating to the criminal justice system including: recommendations to commute the death sentences of Hester Sampson and Thomas Hayes to life transportation; a calendar of prisoners awaiting trial in the goals of Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland; a request to the Middlesex assizes for rewards to be paid; a printed copy of George Skene's last speech prior to execution; a printed broadside listing prisoners in Dorchester jail awaiting transportation; and a 60 page handwritten account of the life of Thomas Jones, who was transported twice and finally hanged at Winchester Prison in 1856.

    Convict love tokens, typically made from smoothed-down coins and engraved or stippled with a message, derive from traditional sailors' farewells. The production of these 'leaden hearts' rose as criminal indictments increased in Britain, with the majority produced during the 1820s and 1830s. As mementos made by or for convicts facing transportation (or death) to leave behind for their loved ones, the tokens provide a poignant, personal insight into the transportation system.

  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Print - A Flood tide - Ship Ahoy!
    Aerial photograph of Springfield
    Marble Church Near Rhyl
    Emily Buckland (Mrs Henry Montague Faithfull)  in a studio setting wearing a large hat

    The Springfield Collection comprises about 1550 artefacts from Springfield station, south of Goulburn. It includes colonial era costume, a bushranger medal, surveying instruments, a late-19th century landau, firearms and edged weapons, wool samples and Joseph Foveaux's pocket watch and bible. The objects are complemented by over 400 photographs. This diverse collection reflects the growth and economic success of the property, responses to changes in the wool market and the daily lives of the people who have lived on Springfield.

    Springfield has grown from a 518-hectare land grant given to William Pitt Faithfull in 1828 to the current 3183 hectares with ownership remaining in the one family. William Pitt Faithfull established the Springfield Merino Stud in 1838 with ten rams selected from the Macarthur Camden Park stud. The stud evolved slowly over the years until the early 1950s when, under the management of Jim Maple-Brown, a scientific approach to wool-growing was adopted and the stud's name was changed to Fonthill to reflect this.

  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7551)

    Flemington Race Course
    SWL card for VK6QSL, Western Australia
    Razorback, Mt Hotham, Vic
    Mosman Bay
  • E Milne collection(652)

    Bottom grinding stone [stone implement]
    Kimberley point
    Top grinding stone [stone implement]
    Aboriginal breastplate for Joey, Chief of Petraman
  • Embroidered Map Samplers collection(3)

    Circular silk sampler map of the eastern hemisphere that indicate the routes of Captain James Cook's three voyages
    Pair of maps that indicate the routes of Captain James Cook's three voyages
    Circular silk sampler map of the western hemisphere that indicate the routes of Captain James Cook's three voyages

    The Embroidered Map Samplers Collection consists of a pair of late 18th century embroidered maps of the Eastern and Western hemispheres on silk backed with cotton, showing the tracks of Captain Cook's three Pacific voyages. These rare maps are in good condition. Some threads are loosened or detached, and both maps are unstretched and dismounted from their original tambours.

    Captain Cook's voyages of discovery between 1768 and his death in 1779 produced accurate maps, extensive collections of natural history specimens and ethnographic objects, and major advances in navigation which revolutionised European understanding of the Pacific and led to the British colonisation of Australia and New Zealand. The embroidered map samplers show the incorporation of Cook's discoveries into the British education system for young women, and suggest a growing sense of national pride at his achievements.