Alternative Name(s): Needlework, Sampler, Embroidery, Fancywork
Embroidered red felt newspaper holder made by six year-old Ethel (Monte) May Punshon (1882-1989). She has sewn '6 DAYS' into the sampler, which may refer to the publication of newspapers such as The Age on six out of seven days each week. It may also refer to the biblical six days of work (and one of rest).
The embroidery was exhibited at the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition (MCIE) held in the (Royal) Exhibition Building from 1 August 1888 to 31 January 1889.
Monte recalled: 'Because of the lack of the stimulating influence of my Uncle Charlie, I was left to my own resources, and began to join my friend Prissie in sewing and making doll's clothes. My mother, noticing this, encouraged me to go a little further, and soon I was doing what was then called "Fancy Work" ... A big event was now due in Melbourne - it was the opening of the Exhibition of 1888.' Her father's firm (publisher and bookseller Cassell and Co.) was to make the exhibition catalogue. '...my mother noticed that a competition was to be held for children of different ages - in Fancy work and other crafts. As I was under the age of seven, my exhibit was accepted, and won first prize of two guineas and a certificate. ... We very often visited the exhibition.' (Monte-San: the Times Between: Life Lies Hidden, pp. 9-10)
Monte loaned the sampler to the Trustees on the Exhibition Building in 1988 for display in the building. At that time aged 105, she was interviewed about her memories of the exhibition. Because her father was an employee at the exhibition (other sources indicate he 'managed the programme sellers') - she was a regular visitor to the exhibition buildings. Her favourite memory was of visits with her father to the spectacular all-white Milk Palace where new inventions such as an automated cream separator and mechanical milking machine were on display. Crowds gathered each day to see the 'fountain of wine' which flowed constantly and where, for a few pennies, you could dip your cup. In 1988 Monte Punshon was nominated the first Honorary Ambassador appointed by World Expo 88, and was a guest of honour at its opening on 30 April 1988.
Monte bequeathed the sampler to Walter Hamblin, who was her carer towards the end of her life. Mr Hamblin donated the object to the Trustees of the Royal Exhibition Building in 1991, from which it became part of Museums Victoria's collection.
Burgundy or red coloured felt newspaper holder in a shape reminiscent of a mosque/temple. Hand-embroidered using long stitch and blanket stitch in yellow, red, blue and pink thread. There are cut outs at the bottom of the design to represent columns. The design is backed with hessian.
Donation from Mr W. L. Hamblin, Jul 1991
Place & Date Exhibited
Sewn: '6 [?] DAYS'.
Type of item
243 mm (Width), 404 mm (Height)
Punshon, Ethel May 'Monte-San: The Times Between - Life Lies Hidden', pub. by Kobe Japan-Australia Society (memories of the 1888 exh). Gwenda Davey, The Oral History of Childhood Collection, TRC 2296: Ethel Punshon (b 1882), accessed [Link 1] 2/2/2021.