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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 11 - 20) 398 items

  • 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
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