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National Museum of Australia

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Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners

2006.0030.0005

Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners

Object information

Physical description

Trade union membership coloured lithograph certificate. Joseph of Nazarus sits atop a complex wooden-looking structure that features strongly classically-inspired architectural elements. "UNION IS / STRENGTH" is on a panel near his feet. A figure labelled "INDUSTRY" is sitting on the proper right hand end of the pediment next to a beehive, and she is holding a scroll bearing the slogan "LABOUR / IS THE / SOURCE OF / WEALTH". A figure labelled "ART" is sitting at the other end, next to a bust of a Roman soldier[?]. Below Joseph is a coat-of-arms, and it has a man who has a lance resting on his shoulder, on top of it. The arms are decorated with a pair of rosettes; a sea shell; a pair of draughting compasses; a set square; and a globe[?]. "CREDO SED CAVEO" is on a scroll that cradles the arms. Clockwise from the top of the proper right side there are several small emblematic vignettes. They are; "PEACE" below a white dove; "FRIENDSHIP" below a hand cupping a heart; "100[pounds] BENEFIT"; a curved wooden staircase and banister; "RELIEF OF WIDOW"; "SUPERANNUATION"; "SECTION OF A SHIP'S CABIN" showing sliding doors; and "ACCIDENT". Under the arch between the pillars are two scenes. The one on top depicts carpenters creating wooden framework for a large, arched stone bridge. It is titled "CENTRING". It is above a drawing of men working in a joinery, titled "THE WORKSHOP". "INDUSTRY AND BENEVOLENCE / UNITE US IN FRIENDSHIP" is on a panel running behind the lower drawing. 'Justice' is standing on a plinth next to the proper right side column, and 'Truth' is next to the one on the left side. "AMALGAMATED SOCIETY OF / CARPENTERS AND JOINERS / This is to Certify that Frank Cross was / admitted a Member of the Broken Hill Branch / of this Society on the 27th day of September 1911 / ... / General Secretary / Geo. Gilbert[?] / Branch Secretary" is on the dedication panel. A vignette titled "EMIGRATION" within a decorative frame, which depicts families on the deck of a sailing ship, is superimposed on it. "INSTITUTED / JUNE MDCCCLX" is across the base of the structure behind a carpenter who is surrounded by his tools, the dedication panel, and a joiner who is also surrounded by his tools.

Statement of significance

The Andrew Reeves collection consists of twenty-three trade union certificates used in Australia from 1860-1970. They are generally in good condition considering their age, use and material (paper based). They cover a range of Australian worker's unions, including a number which either were amalgamated into larger unions or ceased to exist.

The period between the 1850s and the 1970s spans a key time in the development, working condition gains and various ebbs and flow of Australian trade unions. Certificates in this collection document achievements including the eight hour work day but also allow reflection on the dwindling support for unions during the 20th century. In addition, as the designs of Australian certificates follow the centuries old British tradition of union emblems they provide examples of links between worker's organisations in Australia and England.

Object information

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