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National Museum of Australia

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Side table with checker/drafts board top, of the Zilm family of Booleroo, SA, circa 1895


Side table with checker/drafts board top, of the Zilm family of Booleroo, SA, circa 1895

Object information

Physical description

A dark, black/brown painted wooden side table with four square legs, a square top and a broad under-rail. The top has a red-brown decorative design painted around the outer edge, and a faded central painted drafts or checkerboard with eight rows of alternating black and white painted squares. There is significant craquleture of the paint on the table surfaces.

Statement of significance

This collection comprises a set of furniture made and used by the Zilm family, nineteenth-century Prussian settlers in South Australia's Barossa Valley. The four wooden armchairs and stool were hand-carved and constructed from Australian red gum and other eucalypts in 1895 and 1896. Three chairs were later painted black and decorated with a synthesis of central European folk and Aboriginal motifs using orange, red-brown and white paint. The side table with drafts/checkerboard top is decorated with red-brown paint and is thought to have been acquired by the family in the early twentieth-century. The collection retains its original form, condition and decoration, and is in excellent condition.

The 'Zilm family furniture collection' has significance to broad areas of Australian social history, including the nineteenth-century migration of Germanic settlers and the transportation and re-establishment of traditional cultural practices such as carpentry and woodworking. This collection demonstrates the intermingling of European traditions and Aboriginal culture at the northern colonial frontier of South Australia. As a rare example of cross-cultural innovation, this significant collection represents the cultural impact of the first European settlement in South Australia.

Object information

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