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Victorian Trade Union Banners: a proud tradition - Imagery
Image: Banner - United Ironworkers' Assistants Society of Victoria, Ballarat Branch Eight Hour Day
Source: Museum Victoria
Designs incorporating 888, the depiction of native flora and fauna, and coats-of-arms are typical motifs in Australian trade union banners. British motifs adopted in Australian designs include work themes, i.e. work places, skills and processes, tools and machinery; men in uniform symbolising their work; clasped hands as a symbol of mutual help and friendship; and bundles of sticks. The sticks represent the power of organised labour: a single stick is easily broken but a bundle cannot be destroyed. Images of flags and the globe signal international ties.
Women were frequently used as allegorical representations of countries or virtues such as truth, justice and peace. They virtually never appear as workers in the old banners, a situation the modern banner artists sought to address in the 1980s.
Historical and biblical figures, associated with craft skills or industry, added legitimacy to trade unions; eg, printers depicted Caxton, and carpenters Joseph of Nazarene. Some figures are portraits of union members or officials, although this tradition was more prevalent in British banners.
Slogans usually underlined themes of unity, for example 'United to Assist, Not Combined to Injure' and 'Unity is Strength'.
Sometimes a close relationship existed between union certificates and their banners. The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners, Victorian District design comes from a British certificate of 1866 and was widely used, with minor alterations, in Melbourne, Sydney, Kalgoorlie and Wellington banners.
Items per page: 10 50 (showing 1 - 10) 13 items
Canvas banner painted about 1911 by John Hennessey of Carlton, Victoria. It was commissioned by the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union, and cost £100. This trade union ...From: Carlton, Australia Images: 61
Canvas banner painted in 1890 for the United Ironworkers' Assistants Society of Victoria, Ballarat Branch. Formed in 1886, the Ballarat Branch of the Ironworkers commissioned Kift & Smi ...From: Ballarat, Australia Images: 8
This canvas banner was painted in 1890 by Kift & Smith for the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Blacksmiths, Fitters, Patternmakers, Turners & Machinists, Ballarat Branch. It was inclu ...From: Ballarat, Australia Images: 5
This canvas banner was painted by Fred Spielvogel circa 1905 for the Australian Boot Trade Employees Federation, Ballarat Branch. On 5 March 1905 the Ballarat Eight Hours' Day Organisi ...From: Ballarat, Australia Images: 6
This banner was created for the Manufacturing Grocers Employees Industrial Union of Victoria, circa 1911.Images: 4
This canvas banner was painted in 1916 by George Grant for the Australian Tramway Employees Association Victorian Branch. This banner can be seen in footage held by Museum Victoria of t ...Images: 6
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This banner was created for the Metal Trades Federation, Queensland Branch.Images: 0
Painted canvas banner created for the Operative Painters & Decorators of Australasia, South Australian Branch.From: Adelaide, Australia Images: 1
Silk banner painted by G S Hislop of Adelaide for the Operative Masons & Bricklayers of South Australia.From: Adelaide, Australia Images: 1
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A green banner created for the Seamen's Union of Australia.From: Sydney, Australia Images: 0