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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 251 - 300) 489 items

  • Smoking Pipe - Kaolin Archaeology

    Smoking Pipe - Kaolin

    These two tobacco pipe stems were excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. The inscriptions suggest they are of French origin. A pipeful of tobacco was long-last ...

    Images: 1
  • Brooch - Laurel Wreath, Copper Alloy, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Brooch - Laurel Wreath, Copper Alloy, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This copper alloy laurel wreath shaped brooch was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inha ...

    Images: 1
  • Well Ink - Stoneware Archaeology

    Well Ink - Stoneware

    This glass ink well was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Writing implements, found throughout Little Lon, indicate that writing was a commonplace activit ...

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

    Toothbrush - Bone, circa 1880 (Reconstructed)

    This bone toothbrush handle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This is a difficult maxim to fo ...

    Images: 1
  • Cup - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Reconstructed) Archaeology

    Cup - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Reconstructed)

    This reconstructed cup was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were found all over the Little Lon site. Crockery gives u ...

    Images: 1
  • Ginger Beer bottle - Stoneware, Light Brown, Salt Glaze, Australia, Sydney, 1842-1887 Archaeology

    Ginger Beer bottle - Stoneware, Light Brown, Salt Glaze, Australia, Sydney, 1842-1887

    This ceramic bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was made by Thomas Field in Sydney, between 1842 and 1887. Food and eating. Kitchen facilitie ...

    Images: 1
  • Figurine - Lamb, Porcelain, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Figurine - Lamb, Porcelain, circa 1880

    This porcelain lamb figurine was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was possibly once part of a farm scene. 'When I was a child, we played in the street ...

    Images: 1
  • Spoon - Mustard, Silver Plated, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Spoon - Mustard, Silver Plated, circa 1880

    This mustard spoon was excavated during one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It is made of beaten copper and then plated in silver. Food and ...

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Metal, China, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Coin - Metal, China, circa 1880

    These Chinese coins were excavated at were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a dive ...

    Images: 1
  • Smoking Pipe - Kaolin, Moulded, Petals Pattern Archaeology

    Smoking Pipe - Kaolin, Moulded, Petals Pattern

    This 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 Melbourn ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880

    This blue glazed clay 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 chase ...

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

    Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This fragment of ceramic was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological material uncovered in the Little ...

    Images: 1
  • Magnesia bottle - Glass, Green, Light, 1840-1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Magnesia bottle - Glass, Green, Light, 1840-1880 (Fragment)

    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 for "Dinneford's Solution o ...

    Images: 1
  • Saucer - Ceramic, circa 1880 (Reconstructed) Archaeology

    Saucer - Ceramic, circa 1880 (Reconstructed)

    This reconstructed saucer was excavated from a cesspit during one of the archaeological at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were f ...

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

    Bottle - Medicine, Glass, circa 1880

    This small clear glass bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two piece vertical mould. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanlines ...

    Images: 1
  • Astragalus - Bone, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Astragalus - Bone, circa 1880

    Alternative Name(s): Knucklebone This astragalus bone was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was cleaned to be used for the game knucklebones. 'When I ...

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Gold, London, 1851 Archaeology

    Coin - Gold, London, 1851

    This coin was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It is a British gold sovereign and minted in London in 1851. It is commonly called a Shield sovereign becau ...

    Images: 1
  • Comb - Plastic, Scottish Vulcanite Co, Edinburgh, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Comb - Plastic, Scottish Vulcanite Co, Edinburgh, circa 1880

    This black plastic comb was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It would have been used for removing fleas or nits. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is nex ...

    Images: 1
  • Comb - Plastic, Scottish Vulcanite Co, Edinburgh, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Comb - Plastic, Scottish Vulcanite Co, Edinburgh, circa 1880

    This black plastic comb was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It would have been used for removing fleas or nits. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is nex ...

    Images: 2
  • Wineglass - Glass, circa 1860 (Part) Archaeology

    Wineglass - Glass, circa 1860 (Part)

    The base and stem of this wineglass was excavated during one of the archaeological digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Alcohol and Drinking. There wer ...

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Gold & Silver, Sydney, 1858 Archaeology

    Coin - Gold & Silver, Sydney, 1858

    This coin was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was minted at the Sydney mint in 1858. Working in Little Lon. Alongside the tightly packed cottag ...

    Images: 1
  • Crockery Sherds - Earthenware, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Crockery Sherds - Earthenware, circa 1880

    These sherds of glazed earthenware are part of a group of 21 fragments found in the same context. They were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, McDougall, Glasgow, circa 1846-1891 Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, McDougall, Glasgow, circa 1846-1891

    This clay tobacco pipe 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 disguise ...

    Images: 1
  • Fragment - Porcelain, USA, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Fragment - Porcelain, USA, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This fragment of a porcelain vessel was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. The curve of the fragment and the American flags depicted suggest this fragment i ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Wine, Glass, circa 1840-1870 Archaeology

    Bottle - Wine, Glass, circa 1840-1870

    This dark glass wine bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a three-piece Rickett's mould. Alcohol and Drinking. There wer ...

    Images: 1
  • Metal - Iron Alloy Archaeology

    Metal - Iron Alloy

    This metal crochet wheel was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Working in Little Lon. Alongside the tightly packed cottages, commercial enterprise ...

    Images: 1
  • Wine Glass - Glass, Colourless (Fragment) Archaeology

    Wine Glass - Glass, Colourless (Fragment)

    This wineglass base was excavated during one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was one of three wineglass fragments excavated from the same ...

    Images: 1
  • Slide Rule - Ivory, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Slide Rule - Ivory, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    This ivory slide rule was excavated during one of digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Working in Little Lon. Alongside the tightly packed cottage ...

    Images: 1
  • Jar - Pickles, Ceramic, Batty & Co, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Jar - Pickles, Ceramic, Batty & Co, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This ceramic pickles jar was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological material uncovered in the Little ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Soda, Glass, circa 1870-1890 Archaeology

    Bottle - Soda, Glass, circa 1870-1890

    This light green soda bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It is a Hamilton patent bottle which was manufactured using a two piece mould. Alcohol ...

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

    Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    These two fragments were excavated at were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. They were probably part of a cup or bowl. Uncovering past food ...

    Images: 1
  • Jar - Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Jar - Glass, circa 1880

    This turquoise glass bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two piece mould with a separate base and it was probably used ...

    Images: 1
  • Die - Ivory, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Die - Ivory, circa 1880

    This ivory or bone die was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. People living in and visiting Little Lon found many ways to enjoy their leisure time. Tokens ...

    Images: 1
  • Soup Plate - Whiteware, Moulded and Blue Hand-painted, Shell-edge Pattern, England, 1775-1900 Archaeology

    Soup Plate - Whiteware, Moulded and Blue Hand-painted, Shell-edge Pattern, England, 1775-1 ...

    This ceramic bowl was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was possibly used as a soup bowl. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were found all over the L ...

    Images: 1
  • Vessel - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, after 1805 Archaeology

    Vessel - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, after 1805

    This is a fragment of glazed earthenware that is one of 99 fragments found in the same context and were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. U ...

    Images: 1
  • Saucer - Whiteware, Green, Transfer-Printed, England, Staffordshire, 1851-1862 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Saucer - Whiteware, Green, Transfer-Printed, England, Staffordshire, 1851-1862 (Fragment)

    This reconstructed saucer was excavated during on of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological ...

    Images: 1
  • Various - Whiteware, Transfer-Printed Archaeology

    Various - Whiteware, Transfer-Printed

    This fragment is one of 120 fragments found in the same context and were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Glass, circa 1880

    This 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 cowb ...

    Images: 1
  • Teaspoon - Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Teaspoon - Metal, circa 1880

    This large metal teaspoon was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Food and eating. Kitchen facilities in the homes of Little Lon were rudimentary. Few peopl ...

    Images: 1
  • Lamp - Votive, Porcelain, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Lamp - Votive, Porcelain, circa 1880 (Part)

    This porcelain votive lamp was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. Germans, ...

    Images: 1
  • Oil or Vinegar bottle - Glass, Light Green, Moulded, after 1850 Archaeology

    Oil or Vinegar bottle - Glass, Light Green, Moulded, after 1850

    This light green salad oil bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two piece mould. Food and eating. Kitchen facilities i ...

    Images: 1
  • Saucer - Whiteware, Blue, Flow Transfer, Chensi Pattern, England, Staffordshire, 1812-1836 Archaeology

    Saucer - Whiteware, Blue, Flow Transfer, Chensi Pattern, England, Staffordshire, 1812-1836

    This saucer, which was reconstructed from 5 pieces, was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Manufacturers mark on base reads 'CHENSI' which has been attribut ...

    Images: 1
  • Smoking Pipe - Kaolin (Fragment) Archaeology

    Smoking Pipe - Kaolin (Fragment)

    The stem and bowl of this tobacco pipe was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was probably manufactured by McDougall. A pipeful of tobacco was long-last ...

    Images: 1
  • Dinner Plate - Whiteware, Blue, Orange and Gold, Flow Transfer, Gilt and Hand-painted, Oriental Pattern, England, after 1835 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Dinner Plate - Whiteware, Blue, Orange and Gold, Flow Transfer, Gilt and Hand-painted, Ori ...

    This plate was reconstructed from a group of similar fragments found in the same context. They were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. Uncov ...

    Images: 1
  • Gin bottle - Glass, Dark Green, before 1870 Archaeology

    Gin bottle - Glass, Dark Green, before 1870

    This brown glass gin bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured between 1850 and 1870. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels a ...

    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. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised th ...

    Images: 1
  • Tooth Brush - Bone (Fragment) Archaeology

    Tooth Brush - Bone (Fragment)

    This bone toothbrush was excavated during one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This ...

    Images: 1
  • Opium Tin - Copper, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Opium Tin - Copper, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This fragment from a copper opium tin was excavated during one of the digs at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home t ...

    Images: 1
  • Trade Token- Metal, 1862 Archaeology

    Trade Token- Metal, 1862

    This token was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. Germans, Jews and Irish ar ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Glass, circa 1870-1890 Archaeology

    Bottle - Glass, circa 1870-1890

    This light green glass bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two-piece mould between 1870 and 1890 Food and eating. Kit ...

    Images: 1
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