Jump to content
Where our stories come alive
Edmund Milne (1861-1917) was born in England and emigrated to Queensland with his parents 19 months later. He had had personal contact with Aboriginal people throughout his life, from when he was a small boy in Queensland and, from the late 1860s, in New South Wales. This contact may have led him to recording the names of Aboriginal people associated with particular objects in his collection, at a time when this was rarely done. Milne seems to have begun actively collecting Indigenous artefacts in the early 1880s and was still acquiring objects a few months before his death in 1917. His work with the NSW Railways (1876-1917) enabled him to meet a broad range of people who facilitated his collecting and associated activities like visiting Aboriginal sites. From at least the time he lived at Orange NSW (1906-1915), and later at Ryde (1915-1917), near to Sydney city, he displayed his collection at his home. In addition to a large collection of Aboriginal artefacts, Milne's collection included artefacts from the South Pacific and prehistoric implements from Egypt, France and England. In his will dated 12 December 1916, Milne bequeathed his ?Anthropological collection? to the ?first Federal Museum opened in the Federal Capital?. The collection remained at Ryde until early 1931 when it was acquired by the Australian Institute of Anatomy in Canberra. It remained there until the Institute's collections were transferred to the National Museum of Australia in 1985.
A heart-shaped brass cordate breastplate. There is a hole at the curved edges at the proximal end of the breastplate. Engraved on the anterior surface is "U. ROBERT / KING OF / Big Leather / AND / BIG RIVER TRIBES". The breastplate features an emu engraved at the top left corner, a kangaroo image at the top right corner, and a boomerang and spears between the two. A shield is engraved at the distal end.
On display at the National Museum of Australia.
W 150mm x H 145mm x D 10mm
Date of production
Date acquired by donor
by Australian Institute of Anatomy