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Specimens lost to the Australian Museum

By: Patricia Egan, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 11 Mar 2011

In the 19th and early 20th centuries museums often purchased specimens to increase the size and variey of their collections. Read about one intended purchase that unfortunately did not proceed.

Archives volunteer John Rankin is indexing the Reports of the President of the Board of Trustees. Recently John found a report from 1903 which told of the Australian Museum's interest in the Mr Harry Stockdale Collection. This extensive Collection of over 1,000 specimens included island spears, glass & flint-headed spears, boomerangs, tomahawks, bull roarers and fighting picks. Mr Stockdale was selling the Collection via an auction. Curator, Robert Etheridge, had not been able to negotiate the purchase of any of the specimens, prior to the auction, because the price wanted by Mr Stockdale was prohibitive. It was agreed that Etheridge would attend the auction with £25 and try to purchase some specimens. Unfortunately before the auction a fire started at Stockdale's residence. Despite a steam engine being dispatched from Paddington the house was completely destroyed. According to a pressclipping, attached to the President's Report, the household contents which included curios, maps and drawings was valued at £350. What an unfortunate loss for our cultural heritage.

1 comment

Stan Florek - 2.03 PM, 15 March 2011

It may be interesting to add that the Anthropology Collections holds over 400 artefacts acquired from Harry Stockdale between 1895 and 1909. They are mostly Aboriginal items, predominantly from Northern Territory, Kimberley, South and Western Australia. There are some artefacts from Papua New Guinea and other Pacific countries.  Stan

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