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National Museum of Australia

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Wooden serviette ring set on a pewter stand which is shaped as a gum leaf

2001.0029.0001

Wooden serviette ring set on a pewter stand which is shaped as a gum leaf

Object information

Physical description

Wooden serviette ring set on a pewter stand which is shaped as a gum leaf. A small metal plaque centred on the timber ring has been engraved with the initials "P.R.S." The sides of the ring are flanked with metal relief images of an emu and a kangaroo.

Statement of significance

The Elizabeth Chess collection comprises an Australian napkin ring circa 1910, and an 1892 copy of the children's book, Australian Adventures, by W.H.G. Kingston.

The napkin ring features a pewter kangaroo, emu and gum leaf, and reflects the period of heightened patriotism that followed Australia's federation. Patriotic motifs appeared on all manner of early-twentieth century decorative objects, and symbolised the unique characters of the Australian nation. Today, these objects are attractive, tangible reminders of a young, energetic national identity.

In contrast, Australian Adventures presents a British impression of life in the colonies. Recounting the adventures of two young, British explorers, it represents an exotic and sometimes thrilling impression of late nineteenth century Australia. Its thirty-four illustrations highlight the flora, fauna and indigenous culture that captivated many Europeans. Written as an adventure story for young boys, Australian Adventures typifies the English literature that filled the bookshelves and nurseries of nineteenth century English and Australian children.

Object information

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