Similar items over time

Medal - Eight Hours Day, Victorian Pioneers Association, Australia, circa 1880 Numismatics Reg. No: NU 20211

Medal manufactured as a presentation piece by the Eight Hours Committee of the Victorian Pioneers Association. The numbers 888 in circles, representing 8 hours work, 8 hours recreation and 8 hours rest. It was never inscribed or presented. Its size suggests that it was designed to hang from a watch chain. Perhaps this was a trial piece in copper for a gold presentation piece.

In the summer of 1856 a building boom was underway, and labour was scarce. The tradesmen, mostly stonemasons and other skilled building workers, obtained government support for their cause and managed to negotiate an eight-hour working day. The eight-hour day survived economic downturn, employer opposition and union collapse. The principle for building workers to work an eight-hour day without a reduction in their pay soon became widespread, although it took more than half a century to be adopted throughout the workforce. The eight-hour day was widely celebrated as a world first and Australia became known as a 'workingman's paradise'. In spite of this success, only a minority of workers initially won the eight hour day. Chinese and Aboriginal workers, women and children generally worked much longer hours for less pay. By the 1880s, thousands of people turned out for the marches that commemorated the winning of the eight-hour day. Trades were represented with elaborate banners, floats and costumes.
Acquisition Information:
Transfer from National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), 1976
Discipline: Numismatics
Dimensions: 21 mm (Width), 22 mm (Diameter)

More information

Tagged with: 8 hours day celebrations, 8 hours day movement, victorian pioneers, working life, trade unions, workers rights, making history - eight hour day
Themes this item is part of: Public Life & Institutions Collection
Primary Classification: MEDALS
Secondary Classification: Commemorative
Tertiary Classification: trade unions
Series: Australian 8 Hour Medals
DateEra: circa 1880 AD
Obverse Description: At centre a plaque which has not been engraved; PRESENTED / TO; above and below, VICTORIAN-PIONEERS / EIGHT HOURS / ASSOCIATION
Reverse Description: Three circles each containing an 8
Edge Description: Plain
Inscriptions: Plain (edge)
At centre a plaque which has not been engraved; PRESENTED / TO; above and below, VICTORIAN-PIONEERS / EIGHT HOURS / ASSOCIATION (obverse)
Three circles each containing an 8 (reverse)
Shape: Round
Material: Brass
Issued By: Victorian Pioneers Association, Victoria, Australia, Circa 1880
  1. [Book], Mr Andrew Reeves - Museum of Victoria Social History Division, Another Day Another Dollar : Working Lives in Australian History, McCulloch Publishing, Melbourne, 1988

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.


This item is part of the following themes:

Similar items

Yes No