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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 301 - 350) 487 items

  • Blacking Bottle - Ceramic, circa 1870 Archaeology

    Blacking Bottle - Ceramic, circa 1870

    This salt-glazed ceramic blacking bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Blacking was used for cleaning stoves or other household items. It was possi ...

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

    Crockery - Earthenware, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    These fragments of glazed earthenware, probably from a bowl or plate, were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. ...

    Images: 1
  • Seeds - Fruit Archaeology

    Seeds - Fruit

    These seven grape seeds were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological material uncovered ...

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

    Bottle - Medicine, Glass, circa 1880

    This single dose medicine bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This is a difficult maxim ...

    Images: 1
  • Beer/Wine bottle - Glass, Dark Green Archaeology

    Beer/Wine bottle - Glass, Dark Green

    This brown glass bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was likely used for beer or wine Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lo ...

    Images: 1
  • Vessel - Porcelain, Various, Hand-painted Archaeology

    Vessel - Porcelain, Various, Hand-painted

    This glazed porcelain fragment was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It is probably a fragment from a teacup. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were fou ...

    Images: 1
  • Plate - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Filigree Pattern, Copeland and Garrett, Staffordshire, England, 1833-1847 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Plate - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Filigree Pattern, Copeland and Garrett, Stafford ...

    This fragment is one of 55 that were excavated from the same context during one of the digs at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was probably part of a plate or sau ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe Smoking - Kaolin Archaeology

    Pipe Smoking - Kaolin

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

    Images: 1
  • Saucer - Whiteware, Green, Transfer-Printed, Camilla Pattern, Copeland Late Spode, Staffordshire, England, 1847-1867 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Saucer - Whiteware, Green, Transfer-Printed, Camilla Pattern, Copeland Late Spode, Staffor ...

    This saucer was reconstructed from 12 fragments that were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. It is decorated with a pattern known as 'Camilla ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Ginger Beer, Ceramic, G.H. Elliott, Melbourne, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Bottle - Ginger Beer, Ceramic, G.H. Elliott, Melbourne, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    This fragment of a ceramic ginger beer bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lon in 1900. The ...

    Images: 1
  • Disc - Bone, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Disc - Bone, circa 1880

    This disc of worked bone was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was probably used in a game. People living in and visiting Little Lon found many ways to ...

    Images: 1
  • Castor Oil bottle - Glass, Cobalt Blue, England, 1850-1880 Archaeology

    Castor Oil bottle - Glass, Cobalt Blue, England, 1850-1880

    This blue glass pharmaceutical bottle for castor oil was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two piece mould with a separate base ...

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

    Jar - Ceramic, China, circa 1880 (Reconstructed)

    This ceramic storage jar has been reconstructed from a group of 30 fragment that were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. It was wheel made and ...

    Images: 1
  • Jar - Ceramic, China, circa 1880 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Jar - Ceramic, China, circa 1880 (Fragment)

    These glazed ceramic fragments were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. They were probably from a wheel made storage jar which was of Chinese o ...

    Images: 1
  • Buttons - circa 1880 Archaeology

    Buttons - circa 1880

    These nine buttons were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. They are made from a variety of materials, including brass, shell, bone and glass. ...

    Images: 1
  • Aerated Water bottle - Glass, Light Green, London, England, 1809-1920 (Fragment) Archaeology

    Aerated Water bottle - Glass, Light Green, London, England, 1809-1920 (Fragment)

    The body of this light green glass soda bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological material un ...

    Images: 1
  • Candlestick Holder - Copper Alloy, Moulded (Fragment) Archaeology

    Candlestick Holder - Copper Alloy, Moulded (Fragment)

    This iron candle stick 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
  • Smoking Pipe - Kaolin, Moulded, Squatters Bungaree (Fragment) Archaeology

    Smoking Pipe - Kaolin, Moulded, Squatters Bungaree (Fragment)

    This bowl of a clay tobacco pipe was excavated during one of the archaeological digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. This pipe is known as a 'Squatters O ...

    Images: 1
  • Fork - Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Fork - Metal, circa 1880

    This fork 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 people had ovens or i ...

    Images: 1
  • Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880

    This porcelain 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
  • Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Marble - Ceramic, circa 1880

    This clay marble or commie 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, ...

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Coin - Metal, circa 1880

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

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

    Bottle - Medicine, Glass, circa 1880

    This small medicine bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. The medicine it contained was used for pain relief. It was manufactured in the early to mi ...

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

    Saucer - Porcelain, circa 1880 (Reconstructed)

    This saucer, which has been reconstructed from eight fragments which were excavated during one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. It is a Chinese export ware d ...

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

    Pipe Smoking - Kaolin, Moulded (Fragment)

    This is the stem and part of the bowl of a clay tobacco pipe that was excavated at one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. A pipeful of tobacco ...

    Images: 1
  • Mug - Whiteware, Blue, Transfer-Printed, Italian Pattern, England, Staffordshire, 1833-1847 Archaeology

    Mug - Whiteware, Blue, Transfer-Printed, Italian Pattern, England, Staffordshire, 1833-184 ...

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

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Scent, Glass, B W Co, London, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Scent, Glass, B W Co, London, circa 1880

    This small clear glass bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured by B W Co in London and would have been used for perfume. Health a ...

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

    Bottle - Scent, Glass, circa 1880

    This is a a small clear glass bottle that was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured using a two piece mould and would have been used for st ...

    Images: 1
  • Jar - Stoneware, circa 1860-1880 Archaeology

    Jar - Stoneware, circa 1860-1880

    This brown salt-glazed jar was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It would have been used for storing food. Food and eating. Kitchen facilities in the home ...

    Images: 1
  • Thimble - Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Thimble - Metal, circa 1880

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

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

    Bottle - Scent, Glass, Lubin Parfumeur, Paris, circa 1880

    This small glass bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured in Paris for perfume using a two piece mould. Health and hygiene. 'Clea ...

    Images: 1
  • Tea Cup - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Two Temples Pattern, England (Fragment) Archaeology

    Tea Cup - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Two Temples Pattern, England (Fragment)

    This cup has been reconstructed from a group of 16 fragments that make up at least three cups. The fragments were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 an ...

    Images: 1
  • Disc - Brass, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Disc - Brass, circa 1880 (Part)

    This brass disc was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It would have been part of a compass. Homewares. Numerous crockery pieces were found all over the Li ...

    Images: 2
  • Smoking Pipe - Kaolin, Impressed, Rouletted Pattern (Fragment) Archaeology

    Smoking Pipe - Kaolin, Impressed, Rouletted Pattern (Fragment)

    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
  • Aerated Water bottle - Glass, Light Green, Schweppes, London, England, after 1821 Archaeology

    Aerated Water bottle - Glass, Light Green, Schweppes, London, England, after 1821

    This pale green glass Hamilton bomb patent bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was manufactured in London, England by J. Schweppes and Co. Alc ...

    Images: 1
  • Button - Brass, 1880-1892 Archaeology

    Button - Brass, 1880-1892

    This military brass button with motto AUT PACE AUT BELLO (either in peace or in war) was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Buttons such as this were used b ...

    Images: 1
  • Coconut Shell (Fragment) Archaeology

    Coconut Shell (Fragment)

    These three fragments of coconut shell were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeological mate ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle Seal - Glass, Bordeaux Vineyards, France, 19th Century (Damaged) Archaeology

    Bottle Seal - Glass, Bordeaux Vineyards, France, 19th Century (Damaged)

    These three green glass bottle seals were excavated at one of the digs on the Commonwealth Block between 1988 and 2003. They were manufactured for a Bordeaux vineyard in France. Wine wa ...

    Images: 1
  • Doll - Porcelain, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Doll - Porcelain, circa 1880

    This porcelain doll was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was probably part of a dolls house. 'When I was a child, we played in the street with hoops; ...

    Images: 1
  • Coin -  1 Centime, Switzerland, 1853 Archaeology

    Coin - 1 Centime, Switzerland, 1853

    This 1 centime coin from Switzerland was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe Smoking - Kaolin Archaeology

    Pipe Smoking - Kaolin

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It is decorated with a Prince of Wales motif on one side. A pipeful of tobacco was long- ...

    Images: 1
  • Tea Saucer - Bone China, Blue, Sprigged, after 1820 Archaeology

    Tea Saucer - Bone China, Blue, Sprigged, after 1820

    This reconstructed plate was excavated at one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. The pattern on this plate is known as a 'Chelsea Sprig' and is ...

    Images: 1
  • Tea Cup - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Scenic Pattern, England (Fragment) Archaeology

    Tea Cup - Whiteware, Blue Transfer-Printed, Scenic Pattern, England (Fragment)

    This reconstructed cup was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It was probably manufactured in England. Uncovering past food practices. Of all the archaeolo ...

    Images: 1
  • Lid - Jam Jar, Glass, Wotherspoon's, circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Lid - Jam Jar, Glass, Wotherspoon's, circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This glass jam jar lid was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. The inscription suggests it was made for Wotherspoon's Scotch Jam. Uncovering past food pract ...

    Images: 1
  • Ginger Beer bottle - Stoneware, Light Brown, Salt Glaze Archaeology

    Ginger Beer bottle - Stoneware, Light Brown, Salt Glaze

    This saltglazed ceramic bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It would have been used to store liquid. Food and eating. Kitchen facilities in the h ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe Smoking - Kaolin Archaeology

    Pipe Smoking - Kaolin

    This clay tobacco pipe bowl 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 Melbourne's ...

    Images: 1
  • Blacking Bottle - Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Blacking Bottle - Ceramic, circa 1880

    This salt glazed ceramic blacking bottle was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. The shape is known as a 'blacking bottle' which was used to store stove blac ...

    Images: 1
  • Lid - Hair Oil, Ceramic, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Lid - Hair Oil, Ceramic, circa 1880

    This lid was excavated at one of the digs conducted at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. It would have closed a pot or jar of bear grease hair oil. Health and hygiene. ...

    Images: 1
  • Perfume bottle - Glass, Colourless, Pinaud, France, Paris, 1840-1870 Archaeology

    Perfume bottle - Glass, Colourless, Pinaud, France, Paris, 1840-1870

    This clear glass bottle, used for perfume was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This is a difficu ...

    Images: 1
  • Jar - Toothpaste, Ceramic, Maw, London, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Jar - Toothpaste, Ceramic, Maw, London, circa 1880 (Part)

    This base of a ceramic toothpaste jar was excavated at the Commonwealth Block site between 1988 and 2003. The maker's mark suggests it was a 1/2 ounce jar of Maw's Cherry Toothpaste. H ...

    Images: 1
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