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Little Lon

Little Lonsdale ceramics

Image: Little Lonsdale ceramics

Source: Museum Victoria

'Little Lon' is an inner-city block in Melbourne bordered by Lonsdale, Exhibition, Little Lonsdale and Spring Streets. The area, also known as the Commonwealth Block as it was acquired by the Commonwealth Government in 1948, has been subject to five archaeological excavations since 1988. Museum Victoria is custodian of the 500,000+ artefacts excavated from four of the five digs: Little Lon in 1988, Black Eagle and Odd Fellows Hotels in 1990, 17 Casselden Place in 1995, and Casselden Place in 2002.

During the mid to late nineteenth century, Little Lon evolved as a predominantly working class area. It was characterised by a series of laneways, with small properties packed together creating crowded and unsanitary conditions. In the public's consciousness, Little Lon was a slum, riddled with poverty, prostitution and drug addiction.

Little Lon was the city's 'Red Light District', but it was also home to the city's poorest residents and recently arrived immigrants from Ireland, Italy, China and Syria. And what recent archaeological and historical research shows us is that under adverse conditions, many individuals and families managed to make homes, raise children, and establish businesses in Little Lon.

Items per page: 10 50 (showing 1 - 50) 398 items

  • Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880

    This dark green glass bottle was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was most likely used for wine or beer. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lon in 1900. The ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880

    This green glass bottle was excavated from Casselden Place in 2003. It was most likely used for wine or beer. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lon in 1900. The pro ...

    Images: 1
  • Demijohn - Stoneware, Salt Glazed  (Fragment) Archaeology

    Demijohn - Stoneware, Salt Glazed (Fragment)

    This salt glazed polychrome demijohn was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Food and eating. Kitchen facilities in the homes of Little Lon were rudimentary. Few people had ovens or ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This bowl from a clay tobacco pipe was excavated from Casselden Place in 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised the stench of Melbourne's streets. The shor ...

    Images: 1
  • Jewellery - Semi-precious Stone, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Jewellery - Semi-precious Stone, circa 1880 (Part)

    This semi-precious stone item of jewellery was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Its shape indicates it would have been a pendant or earing drop. Jewellery and ornamentation. Pover ...

    Images: 1
  • Candle Stick - Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Candle Stick - Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    The base and handle of this candle stick was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It would have been used domestically.

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Metal, Malay Peninsula, 1829-1830 Archaeology

    Coin - Metal, Malay Peninsula, 1829-1830

    This coin was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was manufactured between 1829-1830 in Malaysia or Indonesia. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse p ...

    Images: 1
  • Pendant - Virgin Mary, Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Pendant - Virgin Mary, Metal, circa 1880

    This pendant was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It has an image of the Virgin Mary. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. Germans, Jews ...

    Images: 1
  • Tie Pin - Flower, Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Tie Pin - Flower, Metal, circa 1880

    This gold metal tie pin with a flower head finial was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabitants - women and me ...

    Images: 1
  • Mirror - circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Mirror - circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This small, round mirror for personal use was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This is a difficult maxim to follow when ' ...

    Images: 1
  • Button - Shamrock Design, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Button - Shamrock Design, circa 1880

    This button was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It has a shamrock motif. Working in Little Lon. Alongside the tightly packed cottages, commercial enterprise thrived in litt ...

    Images: 1
  • Jewellery - Black Glass, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Jewellery - Black Glass, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This black glass item of jewellery was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Its shape indicates it would have been part of a piece of jewellery. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty d ...

    Images: 1
  • Jewellery - Green Glass, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Jewellery - Green Glass, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This green glass item of jewellery was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Its shape indicates it would have been part of a piece of jewellery. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty d ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Salad Oil, Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Salad Oil, Glass, circa 1880

    This glass salad oil bottle was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Food and eating. Kitchen facilities in the homes of Little Lon were rudimentary. Few people had ovens or ice ches ...

    Images: 1
  • Jewellery - Gilt Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Jewellery - Gilt Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This gilt metal jewellery item was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Its shape indicates it was a pendant or earring. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lo ...

    Images: 1
  • Picture Frame - Metal, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Picture Frame - Metal, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This picture frame was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were found all over the Little Lon site. Crockery gives us a glimpse of everyday life i ...

    Images: 1
  • Ink Well - Stoneware, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Ink Well - Stoneware, circa 1880

    This brown, salt glazed ink well was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It is similar to a penny ink well but a little more squat. Writing implements, found throughout Little Lon, i ...

    Images: 1
  • Caricature - Paper, A Edments, Melbourne, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Caricature - Paper, A Edments, Melbourne, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This object was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It has a caricature of a Chinese man and was used in advertising. On the reverse it has a maker's mark of A. Edments, Melbourne, ho ...

    Images: 1
  • Stick Pin - Gold, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Stick Pin - Gold, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This gold stick pin was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It would once have had a bead at its head. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabitants - ...

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Metal, United States of America, 1840-1857 Archaeology

    Coin - Metal, United States of America, 1840-1857

    This coin was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was manufactured in the United States of America between 1840-1857. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a di ...

    Images: 1
  • Tambour Hook - Bone, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Tambour Hook - Bone, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    Alternative Name(s): Tambour Needle Part of carved bone tool, probably for tambour work (originally identified as bobbin). Excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It has a carved acorn o ...

    Images: 1
  • Earring - Gold & Semi-precious Stone, 1870s-1880s Archaeology

    Earring - Gold & Semi-precious Stone, 1870s-1880s

    This 18ct gold earing pendant was the one piece of Australian manufactured jewellery uncovered from the Casselden Place dig in 2003. The workmanship and vine leaf motif allows us to spe ...

    Images: 1
  • Gun Flint - Stone, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Gun Flint - Stone, circa 1880

    This gun flint was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It does not appear to have been used.

    Images: 1
  • Gun Flint - Stone, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Gun Flint - Stone, circa 1880

    This gun flint was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It does not appear to have been used.

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880

    This dark green bottle was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was most likely used for beer or wine. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lon in 1900. The profus ...

    Images: 1
  • Brooch - Garter Design, Gilt Metal, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Brooch - Garter Design, Gilt Metal, circa 1880 (Part)

    This gilt metal brooch with a garter design was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabitants - women and men ali ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It has been made in the shape of man's head. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised the ste ...

    Images: 2
  • Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This fragment of a clay tobacco pipe was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It depicts an Celtic harp. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. ...

    Images: 1
  • Toothbrush - Bone, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Toothbrush - Bone, circa 1880 (Part)

    This bone toothbrush was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This is a difficult maxim to follow when 'there is not one bath ...

    Images: 1
  • Medal - Cessation of Transportation 1853, Bronze, London, 1853 Archaeology

    Medal - Cessation of Transportation 1853, Bronze, London, 1853

    This commemorative medal was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was made in 1853 to commemorate both the cessation of transportation in Tasmania and the Jubilee of the foundation ...

    Images: 2
  • Musket Ball - Lead, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Musket Ball - Lead, circa 1880

    This musket ball was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003.

    Images: 1
  • Musket Ball - Lead, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Musket Ball - Lead, circa 1880

    This musket ball was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003.

    Images: 1
  • Pen Nib - Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Pen Nib - Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This decorative pen nib was excavated at one of the digs at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Writing implements, found throughout Little Lon, indicate that writing wa ...

    Images: 1
  • Ink Well - Stoneware, Hardwood's, London, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Ink Well - Stoneware, Hardwood's, London, circa 1880

    This light brown, salt glazed ink well was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was manufactured by Harwood's, London. Writing implements, found throughout Little Lon, indicate tha ...

    Images: 1
  • Jewellery - Heart Shape, Clear Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Jewellery - Heart Shape, Clear Glass, circa 1880

    This cup was reconstructed from 4 fragments which were excavated form the same context at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by Copeland and Garrett ...

    Images: 1
  • Knob - Bronze, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Knob - Bronze, circa 1880

    This knob was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003.

    Images: 1
  • Disc - Bone, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Disc - Bone, circa 1880

    This bone disc was excavated at Cassleden Place in 2003. It was likely part of a toy or game. People living in and visiting Little Lon found many ways to enjoy their leisure time. Toke ...

    Images: 1
  • Pendant - Metal & Glass, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Pendant - Metal & Glass, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This metal and glass pendant was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabitants - women and men alike - from follow ...

    Images: 1
  • Ink Well - Glass, Angus & Co, Melbourne, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Ink Well - Glass, Angus & Co, Melbourne, circa 1880

    This glass ink well was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was manufactured by Angus & Co., Melbourne. Writing implements, found throughout Little Lon, indicate that writing was ...

    Images: 1
  • Whet Stone - Stone, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Whet Stone - Stone, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This fragment of a whet stone was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Working in Little Lon. Alongside the tightly packed cottages, commercial enterprise thrived in little Lon. ...

    Images: 1
  • Whet Stone - Stone, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Whet Stone - Stone, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This fragment of whet stone was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Working in Little Lon. Alongside the tightly packed cottages, commercial enterprise thrived in little Lon. S ...

    Images: 1
  • Candle Stick - Red Ware, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Candle Stick - Red Ware, circa 1880 (Part)

    This body of a red ware candle stick was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were found all over the Little Lon site. Crockery gives us a glimpse ...

    Images: 1
  • Cup - Ceramic, Chinese, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Cup - Ceramic, Chinese, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This Chinese ceramic cup was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. Germans, Jews and Irish arrived in th ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880

    This green glass bottle was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was most likely used for beer or wine. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lon in 1900. The profu ...

    Images: 1
  • Ink Well - Stoneware, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Ink Well - Stoneware, circa 1880

    This light brown ceramic ink well was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Writing implements, found throughout Little Lon, indicate that writing was a commonplace activity. The pens, ...

    Images: 1
  • Container - Ceramic, Asia, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Container - Ceramic, Asia, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This Asian, dark brown glazed ceramic container was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. Germans, Jews ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This bowl of a clay tobacco pipe was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It has Irish symbols on it, including a Celtic harp. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Medicine, Glass, China, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Medicine, Glass, China, circa 1880

    This single dose medicine bottle was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was manufactured in China. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Medicine, Glass, China, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Medicine, Glass, China, circa 1880

    This clear, single dose medicine bottle was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was manufactured in China. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse popul ...

    Images: 1
  • Pot - Tiger Balm, Glass, Chinese, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Pot - Tiger Balm, Glass, Chinese, circa 1880

    This glass tiger balm pot was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It is missing it's lid but has a maker's mark and was manufactured in China. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Littl ...

    Images: 1
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