Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer


Lubra-Kate brand oil can


Lubra-Kate brand oil can

Object information

Physical description

A "LUBRA-KATE" brand rectangular metal oil can with yellow base paint and black labelling. An image of a young Aboriginal woman, her head and shoulders only, is flanked by 'LUBRA' and 'KATE' is at the top of all sides. On broad sides are the words "THE ARISTOCRAT OF MOTOR OILS. / LUBRA KATE (REGISTERED TRADEMARK.) / WITH NAVY (image of battleship behind word NAVY) / MOTOR OIL / A MEDIUM / JOHN O'NEILL & CO., / 49608 KENT ST, SYDNEY". On the narrow sides are the words "MOTOR OILS / IN SIX GRADES / E.LIGHT B.EXTRA HEAVY A.MEDIUM CLUTCH OIL B.B. HEAVY HEAD CASE OIL / Manufactured by / FISKE BROTHERS REFINING CO. / 24 STATE ST; NEW YORK, U.S.A. / Sole Wholesale Agents / JOHN O'NEILL...'. The can has no lid.

Statement of significance

The People's Paraphernalia Collection no 17 consists of four posters promoting boxing matches, an entry ticket, a trainers' pass, a Scanlens players card featuring Aboriginal footballer Graham Farmer, and a 'Lubra Kate' motor oil can, and was purchased by the Museum at auction in 1996. At the time the auctioneer informed the Museum that the boxing material had previously belonged to Graeme Brooke. Graeme 'Porky' Brooke is a Victorian Aboriginal man who once held the Australian amateur featherweight boxing title, and has been described as "a second Lionel Rose". Both Rose and Brooke were trained by Jack Rennie, and both are featured on posters in the collection. The previous provenance of the 'Lubra Kate' tin and the AFL collectors' card is unknown.

The contribution of Aboriginal Australians to sport, and to boxing in particular, is significant. Between the 1930s and 1980s, Aboriginal boxers won fifteen per cent of Australia's professional boxing titles, despite their being only one per cent of the population. As an economically disadvantaged race, Aboriginal people have been particularly attracted to boxing, sprint running and football, as sports that can be accessed with little equipment and at little expense and provide significant financial reward. In addition to providing a potential escape from poverty, many Aboriginal people regarded boxing as a way of freeing themselves from social segregation and racial discrimination.

Object information

Back to top