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Poster - Chronological Tree of Victorian History, James McKain Meek, 1873 Document Reg. No: HT 6971

Summary:
Chronological Tree of Victorian History, a picture designed and written by James McKain Meek, printed and published by John Paten, in 1873, and photo-lithographed by John Noone, Crown Lands Office, Melbourne. The picture is in the shape of a gum tree, with a stylised geological and political map of Victoria forming the 'leaves'. It includes substantial statistical information about the colony of Victoria. The author produced a number of such large pictures that promoted the colony.

James Meek included this legend among his extensive text: 'This chronological tree of Victorian history is by permission most respectfully dedicated to William Henry Archer, Esq., Registrar-General of the Colony of Victoria, and Honorary Corresponding Member of the Statistical Society of London, etc. by his obedient servant James McKain Meek. ? Victoria is, by her general and healthy climate, by her auriferous, metalferous and mineral deposits, her pastoral capabilities, the productiveness of her agricultural lands, the compulsory education of her children, destined to become one of the great nations of the earth.'

In a now lost autobiography, Meek described the inspiration for and iconography of the chronological tree: ?I was a resident of the town of Warrnambool in which place I wrote the History of Victoria in the form of a gum tree in tablet form. The blossoms of the tree denoted the towns - the foliage occupied the space of the map of Victoria. The branches have the geological features of the country - and the barrel its history arranged in chronological order. Such an undertaking was a very trying one to accomplish the drawing being 6 feet by 5 feet, however in due time I completed my task. In the intermittent time to relieve the monotony I composed my epic poem ?The Creation?, and when finished, I lent it to my friends for their perusal, all admired the sentiment and advised me to get it published, which I did.? (Meek, James McKain. Extract of page of [lost] autobiography, nd. Transcript by John T Dallimore, 1986, Journal of the Meek Family Fellowship, 1 (Nov): 4)
Description:
The picture is in the shape of a gum tree, with a stylised geological and political map of Victoria forming the 'leaves'. At the base of the 'tree' is a pen and ink drawing of a wilderness scene with an emu and kangaroo, ships in a bay, and a distant lighthouse.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 89 cm (Width), 114 cm (Length)
Dimension Comment: Measurements made by curator, as object is too fragile to unroll at time of registration.

More information

Tagged with: artworks, inscribed stock
Themes this item is part of: James McKain Meek, Illustrator & Writer (1815-1899), Public Life & Institutions Collection
Primary Classification: GOVERNANCE
Secondary Classification: Victorian State Government
Tertiary Classification: reference materials
Inscriptions: The picture includes extensive text, arranged under the headings: Victoria/Principal Boroughs and Shire Towns/ City of Melbourne/ Metropolitan Boroughs/ Timeline' Geological features/ Statistical Summary of Victoria/ names of Ministers in the Present Government, 1873/ Names of Ministers, First Responsible Government in Victoria, 1855/ details about Edward Henty, and a note that the work was 'Registered by Act of Parliament'.
Artist: James Meek, Victoria, Australia, 1873
Lithographer: John Noone, Victoria, Australia, 1873
References: See Mrs R. Duruz: 'An unusual pioneer in Victoria: a biographical sketch of James McKain Meek' in Victorian Historical Magazine, v.44, February 1973, pp.40 - 47; catalogues of the State Library of Victoria and the National Library of Australia.
See also Hay, PR, 'Meek, James McKain (1815-1898)', The Biographical Dictionary of Western District of Victoria, Gordon Forth, General Editor (ed), South Melbourne Victoria, 108-109 (1998)
Bibliography:
  1. [Article] Pryde, Pam. 2006. John Noone, Government Photo-lithographer, 1861-1888. Script & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand. 30 (1): 31-38.

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