Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer

4

Black, white and pink leaflet printed for Australia's 150th Anniversary in 1938

2003.0010.0007

Black, white and pink leaflet printed for Australia's 150th Anniversary in 1938

Object information

Physical description

Black, white and pink leaflet printed for Australia's 150th Anniversary. Three fold leaflet with an image of a birthday cake on the front and 'You're Invited / Australia's 150th Anniversary Celebrations, January 26th - April 25th 1938, New South Wales 1938'. Issued by Australia's 150th Anniversary Celebrations Council.

Statement of significance

150th Anniversary Celebrations January 26 - April 25 1938 Ephemera

The general public seemed to have embraced the 150th Anniversary celebrations in 1938 with great enthusiasm. A significant amount of ephemera remains from the celebrations including invitations, pamphlets, program brochures and tourist leaflets. G.J. Coles and Co Limited produced a special edition of the Magazine of the Employees with an aerial photograph of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and an article celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the landing of Captain Phillip with his handful of pioneers. Australia's 150th Anniversary Celebrations Council presented to the school children of New South Wales an 'Historic Retrospect on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations of the founding of Australia', as well as a Christmas Greeting Card.

During the 1938 Anniversary, a display of the coronation robes of the King, Queen and two princesses toured Australia in all state capitals and Canberra. 540,000 people came from across the country to view the exhibition. The illustrated souvenir booklet for the exhibition is also included in this collection.

The 150th Anniversary of white settlement in Australia was marked with official ceremonies, picnics, balls, musical performances and firework shows. The show piece of the New South Wales celebrations was a re-enactment of Phillip's landing. Interestingly, the celebrations omitted any mention of Australia's convict past. The celebrations were scheduled to take place over a three month period between Australia Day, 26 January to Anzac Day, 25 April. The ephemera produced during this period reflects a new optimism for Australia coming towards the end of the Great Depression. Only a century and a half years old and proud of its British heritage.

The Cessation of Transportation Medal was struck to commemorate the end of transportation of convicts to Tasmania in 1853. Nine thousand pewter medals were struck and an additional 100 were produced in bronze for members of various committees. The Sydney token maker, J.C. Thornthwaite is thought to have prepared the dies for the 58mm medal.

In 1840, the Molesworth Committee, set up by the British House of Commons decided to bring and end to transportation to New South Wales. Following this decision, convicts were sent to Van Diemen's Land in increasing numbers. To cope with this increase, a 'probation system' was established and the assignment of convicts to settlers abolished. Under the new system convicts were placed in government gangs and distributed across the island. Settlers found themselves without the free labour on which they relied.

In 1849 an Anti-Transportation League was established in Van Diemen's Land. Although there was some support for the continuation of transportation, mainly from large landholders who stood to benefit from cheap labour, the anti-transportation movement was ultimately successful. The last transport of convicts arrived in 1853. Only Western Australia remained a convict colony until 1868.

Following the discovery of gold in New South Wales in 1851, the Australian Government suggested that a mint be built in Sydney to regulate the colonies currency problems. Approval was given in 1853 by the British Government with the first coins being struck in 1855. The gold sovereigns being assessed are of the second Sydney Mint design. The new portraying of Queen Victoria by the artist L.C. Wyon was introduced in 1857 and remained in use until 1870.

The fall of wool prices in the 1840s brought unemployment. In 1849, gold was discovered in California and over 7000 people left Australia. Governor FitzRoy realised that the only way to stop mass emigration to the US was to start a gold rush at home. FitzRoy announced a reward for the first person to find payable gold in the colony. Gold was found in NSW in 1851.

As the Australian gold rush gained momentum, it soon became clear to the British government that it could no longer ignore the colony's currency problems. The London Royal Mint opened a branch in Sydney's old Rum Hospital on 4 May 1855. The result was Australia's first official coinage - the Sydney mint 22 carat gold sovereign and half sovereign, worth 22 shillings and ten shillings respectively.

The coins bore a notation of value and included the name of the mint which is interesting as Australia did actually exist as a political entity until 1901. These sovereigns were abolished in 1870 and by 1871 the Sydney Mint struck British Imperial sovereigns, differentiated by the addition of a "S" mintmark. These sovereigns were minted until 1926.

Object information

Back to top