Summary

Coloured invitation printed on card to a Conversazione, an evening event held in the Exhibition Building on the evening of Tuesday 7 May 1901 as part of the Australian Commonwealth Celebrations. The invitation was sent to Professor Walter Baldwin Spencer MA and Mrs Spencer.

The invitation was designed by GBH Austin and was printed by Sands & McDougall Ltd. Austin's original design is in the Watson papers at the National Library of Australia.

George Brougham Hubert Austin (1859 -1921) was a Melbourne architect and artist who was employed for many years by the Victorian Department of Public Works where he designed the La Trobe Street Courts. He also designed many of the public decorations that festooned Melbourne during the Federation celebrations in 1901.

Physical Description

The invitation shows an etching of the Exhibition Building, surrounded by an ornate border of heraldic shields, portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, views of Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart, native flora (including wattle, waratah, pink heath, Sturt's desert pea, and flannel flower), and native fauna (kookaburra, possum, lyre bird, cockatoo and koala). The royal crest 'Dieu et mon droit' and the Australian crest 'Advance Australia' are also included.

Significance

The invitations is an important addition to the collection related to the Federation celebrations in Melbourne. This collection is a significant subsection of the Museum's Royal Exhibition Building Collection, Australia's only World Heritage built structure.
The majority of events represented by the invitations were held at the Royal Exhibition Building, which was the home of the first Federal Parliament of Australia, until 1927 when it was transferred to the new Parliament House in Canberra. Whilst the Museum already has a few examples of these invitations, it is desirable to acquire several more examples, which will be used as change-overs for those proposed for use in the new Melbourne Exhibition (which will be displayed for the first two years of the exhibition.

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