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Little Lon Collection

Mug, Copeland and Garrett, Staffordshire

Image: Mug, Copeland and Garrett, Staffordshire

Source: Museum Victoria

The Commonwealth Block is an area in inner-city Melbourne bounded by Lonsdale, Exhibition, Little Lonsdale and Spring Streets comprising. During the mid- to late-nineteenth century, it developed as a working class district, with simple houses, cottage industries and small scale businesses. The area has been regarded as a slum, occupied by criminals, prostitutes and the poor, however archaeological research on the nineteenth-century occupation of the site suggests a more complex history with at least some long term occupants seeking a respectable life. Towards the end of the century many ethnic minority groups were moving into the area and operating businesses, and the early twentieth century saw the construction of a number of small factories.

In 1948 the Commonwealth Government compulsorily acquired the land. The homes and factories that populated the back streets and lanes were razed to the ground, and a large government office block was built in the south-east corner. Ahead of a tidal wave of further commercial development in the late 1980s, an archaeological investigation of the area was commissioned by The Department of Administrative Services and Telecom Australia. In the summer of 1987-1988 over 200,000 artefact fragments were uncovered from the first archaeological dig which took place along Little Lonsdale Street. There have been four further digs since: Black Eagle & Oddfellows Hotels (1991), 17 Casselden Place (1995), Phase 3 Testing (2001), and Casselden Place (2002-2003). These digs produced an additional 300,000 artefacts. Artefacts from all but the Phase 3 Testing season are in Museum Victoria's collection.

The 'Little Lon' collection (named after the site of the first archaeological excavation) provides fascinating insights into the people who lived and worked in Melbourne in the latter part of the 19th century. Archaeologists found magnums that once held the best French champagne; marbles, toy tea sets, dolls and other children's toys; Chinese ceramics, willow pattern plates, Crimean War souvenirs, tokens and coins. Residents purchased homeopathic pain killers, patent medicines and laxatives. They ate cheap cuts of mutton and oysters by the dozen, and the area was infested with rats. Archaeologists and historians continue to analyse the distribution and stratigraphy of objects, to discover more about the people who lived in the district.

Items per page: 10 50 (showing 201 - 250) 489 items

  • Doll -  Frozen Charlotte, Wood, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Doll - Frozen Charlotte, Wood, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This is a carved wood, Frozen Charlotte doll. It was excavated from Casselden Place in 2003. Frozen Charlottes were typically unjointed china dolls that ranged in height from 25 mm to 1 ...

    Images: 1
  • Vesta Case - Wood, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Vesta Case - Wood, circa 1880 (Part)

    This wooden vesta case, for holding matches, was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised the stench of Melbourne's streets. ...

    Images: 1
  • Doll - Frozen Charlotte, Wood, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Doll - Frozen Charlotte, Wood, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This is a wooden Frozen Charlotte doll. It was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Frozen Charlottes were typically unjointed china dolls that ranged in height from 25 mm to 100 mm. O ...

    Images: 1
  • Handle - Shaving Brush, Bone, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Handle - Shaving Brush, Bone, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This bone shaving brush handle 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 ...

    Images: 1
  • Toy Gun - Lead, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Toy Gun - Lead, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This lead toy gun was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; we played hopscotch, and chasey, and cowboys and Indians, running r ...

    Images: 1
  • Brooch - Wishbone, Copper, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Brooch - Wishbone, Copper, circa 1880 (Part)

    This copper brooch in the shape of a wishbone was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabitants - women and men al ...

    Images: 1
  • Medal - Cole's Book Arcade, Always Do That Which You Believe to Be Right, 1879-1903 Archaeology

    Medal - Cole's Book Arcade, Always Do That Which You Believe to Be Right, 1879-1903

    Alternative Name: Token Copper alloy medal minted in Melbourne in the late 19th century, inscribed 'COLES BOOK ARCADE MELBOURNE' and ALWAYS DO THAT WHICH YOU BELIEVE TO BE RIGHT'. This ...

    Images: 1
  • Brooch - Flower & Leaf Pattern, Copper, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Brooch - Flower & Leaf Pattern, Copper, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This copper brooch with an elaborate moulding of flowers and leaves was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabita ...

    Images: 1
  • Syringe - Glass, circa 1880 (Broken) Archaeology

    Syringe - Glass, circa 1880 (Broken)

    This is a glass syringe which has been broken into many parts. It was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This is a difficult ...

    Images: 1
  • Jar - Holloway's Ointment, Ceramic, Holloway's, London, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Jar - Holloway's Ointment, Ceramic, Holloway's, London, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This Holloway's Ointment pot was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Holloway's Ointment contained opium. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godli ...

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

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe with incomplete stem was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It has depiction of a person on one side and an animal on the other. A ...

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Copper, California, United States of America, 1849 Archaeology

    Coin - Copper, California, United States of America, 1849

    This coin was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was struck in California in 1849. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse po ...

    Images: 1
  • Marbles - Ceramic & Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marbles - Ceramic & Glass, circa 1880

    These 15 marbles were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; we played hopscotch, and ch ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1821-1870 Archaeology

    Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1821-1870

    This olive green glass bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was most likely used for porter ale. The bottle combines tooled and hand blown comp ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, Thomas White & Co., Edinburgh, 1823-1876 (Part) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, Thomas White & Co., Edinburgh, 1823-1876 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe stem was excavated at Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by Thomas White & Co. in Edinburgh, Scotland. Thomas White & Co. made pip ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, Thomas White & Co., Edinburgh, 1823-1876 (Part) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, Thomas White & Co., Edinburgh, 1823-1876 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl, spur and partial stem was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by Thomas White & Co. between 1823 and 1876. ...

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

    Bottle - Medicine, Glass, China, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    These two single dose, glass medicine bottles were excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. They are of Chinese origin. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next ...

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

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This tobacco pipe bowl was excavated at one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It is of British origin. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting a ...

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

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl was excavated at one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguis ...

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

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl was excavated during one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma dis ...

    Images: 1
  • Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This is a fragment of glazed earthenware that is one of 35 fragments found in the same location that were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. I ...

    Images: 1
  • Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    These fragments of glazed earthenware are some of 700 fragments found in the same location that were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. They ...

    Images: 1
  • Bobbin - Bone, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Bobbin - Bone, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This bone bobbin was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Working in Little Lon. Alongside the tightly packed cottages, commercial enterprise thrived i ...

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

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl and stem was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised the stench of Mel ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, C. Crop, London, circa 1840-1861(Part) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, C. Crop, London, circa 1840-1861(Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. C. Crop, Hoxton, London, made pipes between 1840 - 1861. A pipeful of tobacco was long-l ...

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

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880, (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl and spur was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised the stench of Mel ...

    Images: 1
  • Figurine - Lady Godiva, Ceramic, Staffordshire Potteries, England, after 1865  (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Figurine - Lady Godiva, Ceramic, Staffordshire Potteries, England, after 1865 (Incomplete ...

    This figurine was excavated at Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It depicts Lady Godiva, who was a historical figure in English history. According to legend she rode throug ...

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

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl, spur and stem was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised the stench ...

    Images: 1
  • Vessel - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Unidentified Pattern (Fragment) Archaeology

    Vessel - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Unidentified Pattern (Fragment)

    These fragments are part of 53 fragments found in the same location and were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. Homewares. Numerous crockery ...

    Images: 1
  • Knife - Bone & Metal, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Knife - Bone & Metal, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This bone handled knife was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological material uncovered in the Little L ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Scent, Glass, I. M. Farina, France, circa 1840-1870 Archaeology

    Bottle - Scent, Glass, I. M. Farina, France, circa 1840-1870

    This bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two piece vertical mould with separate base part in France by I. M. Farina be ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Salad Oil, Glass, circa 1850 Archaeology

    Bottle - Salad Oil, Glass, circa 1850

    This light-green, glass salad oil bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured during the 1850s using a two piece vertical mould probab ...

    Images: 1
  • Brooch - Heart Shaped, Brass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Brooch - Heart Shaped, Brass, circa 1880

    This heart-shaped brooch with crucifix and anchor decoration was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Li ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Eucalyptus Oil, Glass, R. C. Bosisto, Australia, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Eucalyptus Oil, Glass, R. C. Bosisto, Australia, circa 1880

    This green eucalyptus oil bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by R.C. Bosisto's. Bosisto's harvested eucalyptus oil from near ...

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

    Bottle - Scent, Glass, circa 1880

    This glass scent bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two piece vertical mould. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is n ...

    Images: 1
  • Pendant - Crucifix, Bronze, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Pendant - Crucifix, Bronze, circa 1880

    This bronze crucifix was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It would have been worn as a pendant or been attached to a rosary. Jewellery and ornamentation. ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Gin, Glass, circa 1870-1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Gin, Glass, circa 1870-1880

    This brown gin bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It is dip moulded and possibly turn moulded and was flamed over a pontil. Alcohol and Drinkin ...

    Images: 1
  • Fork - Bone & Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Fork - Bone & Metal, circa 1880

    This bone handled fork was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological material uncovered in the Little Lo ...

    Images: 1
  • Jewellery - Ring, Copper, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Jewellery - Ring, Copper, circa 1880

    This ring was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabitants - women and men alike - from ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880

    This blue and white marble is one of a group of marbles excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; we play ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Glass, circa 1880

    This orange marble is one of a group of marbles that were excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; we pl ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880

    This brown glazed marble is one of a group of marbles that were excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; ...

    Images: 1
  • Saucer - Earthenware, Dillwyn & Co, Swansea, Wales, 1811-1817 (Reconstructed) Archaeology

    Saucer - Earthenware, Dillwyn & Co, Swansea, Wales, 1811-1817 (Reconstructed)

    This earthenware saucer was excavated form the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by Dillwyn and Company between 1811 and 1817 in Swansea, Wales. Homewa ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Glass, circa 1880

    This blue glass marble was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; we played hopscotch, and chasey, and ...

    Images: 1
  • Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This piece of crockery, probably from a plate or saucer, was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were found all over the ...

    Images: 1
  • Pitcher - Earthenware, W. Davenport & Co., England, circa 1805-1883 (Reconstructed) Archaeology

    Pitcher - Earthenware, W. Davenport & Co., England, circa 1805-1883 (Reconstructed)

    This reconstructed pitcher was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by W. Davenport & Co in Staffordshire, England between 1805 and 1883. ...

    Images: 1
  • Brooch - Boar's Head, Tin, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Brooch - Boar's Head, Tin, circa 1880

    This tin brooch with an image of a boar's head was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's in ...

    Images: 1
  • Doll - Frozen Charlotte, Stoneware, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Doll - Frozen Charlotte, Stoneware, circa 1880 (Part)

    This head of a Frozen Charlotte doll was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Frozen Charlottes were typically unjointed china dolls that ranged in height fr ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880

    This marble was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; we played hopscotch, and chasey, and cowboys an ...

    Images: 1
  • Plate - Earthenware, Edward Pountney & Co, Bristol, 1849-1889 (Reconstructed) Archaeology

    Plate - Earthenware, Edward Pountney & Co, Bristol, 1849-1889 (Reconstructed)

    This reconstructed plate was excavated at one of the archaeological digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by Edward Pountney & Co in B ...

    Images: 1
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