Object in focus: Wheat flail from Molong

By Sandra McEwen, Consultant Curator, Paddock to Plate: a history of food and wine in Orange and district

It’s not often that I’m lost for words…but it happened recently. I was rummaging in a cupboard at Molong Historical Museum, looking for treasures. Suddenly, out of the darkness emerged a wheat flail that was made and used in 1873. The label attached indicated that Sam Clarke used it on his first wheat crop grown at Home Plain, Grega. It wasn’t just a wheat flail. It was one in excellent condition, with a complete story!

Wheat flails were used for the horrible job of beating (winnowing) the outer casings off ears of wheat to produce clean grain. The user hung on to the longer stick and thrashed the wheat with the short one. Leather tied the two sticks together. In 1884 the task was taken over by stripper-harvesters that could both reap the heads off wheat stalks and winnow them to harvest grain in one operation.

Wheat flails weren’t precious, so not many have survived to tell their tales. This discovery at Molong reinforced for me what an important role small regional museums play in preserving the treasures of our rural past. That little wheat flail sat undisturbed in the dark for many, many years, just waiting for its time to shine. The exhibition will be full of gems similar to this one. Whatever you do, don’t miss it!

Image above: Sam Clarke’s Flail, c.1873. Loan courtesy Molong Historical Museum

The bad luck of Mr. F.H Brown

A fascinating link to Orange’s past is presented by a glass cordial bottle with the name ‘F.H BROWN EAST ORANGE’ moulded on the front.  Held in Orange Regional Museum’s collection, the bottle was found in the East Orange Channel by Orange City Council staff during works undertaken in 2016.

Glass cordial bottle, ‘F.H BROWN EAST ORANGE’, found in the East Orange Channel during works in 2016. ORM2016/227  Orange Regional Museum collection

Mr. F.H Brown was not Orange’s luckiest man, his cordial factory on Autumn Street in East Orange was up for sale in September 1914. However the sale did not go ahead as another article published by the Orange Leader reports his breach of the industrial act in July 1915. F.H Brown was fined for failing to keep time sheets and for pay sheets not being correctly written. His defense was that they were most likely placed in the waste paper basket.  Found guilty Mr. Brown was fined £1.

Bad luck continued when Mr. F.H Brown’s cordial factory was destroyed by fire on Friday 13th December 1918. £1050 (over $50,000 in today’s money) worth of damage was done to the factory and machinery.

The fire seems to have been the final nail in the coffin for Mr. Brown as between February 1919 and late 1920 notices for the sale of a car, carts, wagons, scales, pumps and pipes were advertised in the local paper.

The bottle is a codd design that was used for carbonated drinks. This type of bottle is closed by a glass marble in the neck and a rubber seal in the lip. The bottles were filled upside down and the pressure of the carbonated drink closed the marble against the rubber seal. When opened the marble would fall into a larger chamber in the neck allowing the drink to be poured.

Because of the inclusion of the marble many of these bottles were broken after use to retrieve the marble for children’s entertainment. The bottle in the museum’s collection seems to have be broken for this purpose.

Mr Stabback’s Cordial

Cordial making in Orange was well established after the rush for gold at nearby Ophir in 1851.  George Weily is believed to be one of the first manufacturers of cordials and ginger beer during in the 1860s.  By the 1870s there were several firms specialising in making cordials in Orange.

A recent acquisition to the collection of Orange Regional Museum is a green glass bottle with wooden stopper, marked “W.S. STABBACK ORANGE”.  William Samuel Stabback purchased the Phoenix Soda and Cordial Factory from Josiah Parker in 1871.  The factory was located in a lane off Anson Street, now Stibbard’s Lane, (possibly a misspelling of the name Stabback).

Cordials were sold in a range flavours including; lemon, lime, raspberry and orange.  The bottles were expensive to manufacture and were reused many times for the owner to make a profit.  Often bottles were marked with the name of the manufacturer as can be seen with the Stabback’s bottle pictured below.

Advances in refrigeration and transport led to the decline of small cordial manufacturers.  Whileys stopped manufacturing cordial in the 1960s.

Following  from Josiah Parker’s carrier in cordial manufacturing he was Mayor of East Orange from 1888-1889. Similarly William Stabback was Mayor of East Orange in 1889, 1891-1893, 1895-1897.

Moulded green glass bottle with wood stopper, marked “W.S. STABBACK ORANGE”. ORM 2017/115 Gift of Denise Moriarty.

An 1894 dictionary of cookery, published by Cassell, Petter and Galpin, gives insight into the time intensive process of making cordial during the late 1800s. A recipe for Hops and Sherry Cordial involves shaking and pressing hops covering them with sherry and leaving for a month for the flavors to infuse. Following this the mixture is strained and sugar is added. The final product must be kept in ‘closely corked bottles’ and should be mixed with water to consume.

For more Victorian recipes including ginger, cinnamon and aromatic cordials check out the Cassell’s dictionary of cookery here.

Hops and Sherry Cordial Recipe, Cassell’s dictionary of cookery containing about nine thousand recipes, 1894

Movies at the Museum

Next at Movies at the Museum: THE LEGEND OF BEN HALL

Fri 2 Feb 2018, 6pm-10pm

Screening of The Legend of Ben Hall, a 2016 Australian film documenting the life of the notorious bush ranger. Rated M

Recommended 18+, tickets $15 per person(including GST), includes drink and catering on arrival and during interval
Booking essential, limited numbers

Book your tickets here

Event Sponsored by:

Image courtesy Pinnacle Films

School Holiday Program: Printing History

Wed 17 – Fri 19 Jan 2018

Sessions 9.30am and 11.30am daily

Print history this summer at Orange Regional Museum. Foam printing workshops for children aged 5-12 years.

Free event, 1 hour sessions

Bookings limited, 02 6393 8444 or book here

Image courtesy of strictlyforkidsstore.com/printmaking

Journeys: people place stories

Open: Mon -Sun, 9am-5pm, No admission cost

Journeys: people place stories closes at 5pm on Sunday 4th February 2018

Journeys: people place stories explores the region, its people and place through time.

Beginning with the region’s first inhabitants, Journeys explores the connection to country told through stories and artefacts of the Wiradjuri people, prior to and following the crossing of the Blue Mountains and eventual settlement by in the region by Europeans.

Settlement Display

The journey continues by examining the significance of the landscape both as a rich mineral resource and as a place of cultural and environmental significance.

 

Image: Display showing ‘King Billy Pye’ Breastplate, Loan courtesy Eugowra Historical Museum and Bushranger Centre and Shepherds’ Watch box,  Loan courtesy Gamboola

The ever present Mt Canobolas has influenced settlement patterns, acted as a place of spiritual significance and more recently Lake Canobolas has offered the regions sports people a place to perfect their skills.

‘Emma’- 1926 Chevrolet Superior TourerTransport technologies from the Cobb & Co coach, to railways and motor transport have changed the way people journey in the region and beyond. Developments in transport brought economic prosperity to historic villages across the region, while new communication technologies have changed the way our lives are documented and how we connect.

Image: ‘Emma’-  1926 Chevrolet Superior Tourer, Loan courtesy Dave and Larna Perry

Orange and the region has gone through a significant journey to emerge as the culturally diverse prosperous centre known today. Journeys: people place stories documents and celebrates this transformation.

Featuring objects from regional collections and local individuals Journeys: people place stories invites you to discover the rich heritage of Orange the region.

For more information and to find out about exhibition programs and event please see: www.orangemuseum.com.au/events  

Complete Journeys: people place stories events and activities program can be downloaded here

bridge
Image: An Orange journey – Section of the Great Western Railway Line running west of Orange East Fork Junction. Image Courtesy of Orange City Library