The Metropolitan Dental Company

I am an indentured labourer at the State Library of Western Australia. This article is made up of an amalgam of items from our collections. I have been trying to plaque up the courage to write it for some time but was concerned that I might have bitten off more than I could chew. I won’t floss over the issue of the slight decay that occurred while I investigated the collection.

The tooth hurts, but there is no point being down in the mouth for pro-mastication will get me nowhere – and who knows? – This might one day be called my crowning achievement.

Teeth of Charm and beauty slwa_b2034953_18

One would not normally associate a dental company with glitz and glamour, but during the first half of the 19th century Perth’s major dental firm had an image of modernity and high fashion without equal in Western Australia.

The Metropolitan Dental Company was established in 1908 advertising its aim to provide affordable dental care for all, including people on lower incomes.

2016-06-21_1503

Advertising for dental products from the ephemera collection of the Metropolitan Dental Company.

0005 (5)

Advertising for dental products from the ephemera collection of the Metropolitan Dental Company.

The State Library has a small but delightful collection of material relating to the Metropolitan Dental Company including photographs, a day book, scrapbooks, certificates, advertising mock-ups and other ephemera.

Metropolitan_Dental_Company_proposed_offices__2016-06-21_1651

Drawing of the (proposed?) exterior of the Metropolitan Dental Company 00716D

Hay Street, Perth premises of the Metropolitan Dental Company slwa_b3473316_2

Hay Street, Perth premises of the Metropolitan Dental Company 1927 100182PD

The Company was described as the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. The owners were Wolf Blitz, Alfred Kaufman, and Alfred Rogers, with notable dentists such as Edgar McGillicuddy, Thomas Wilson and Albert E. Ford working for the company at various times.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Metropolitan Dental Company advertised widely in newspapers, using the lure of a short anecdote or educational snippet followed by an invitation to use their services. In fact they made an art of the “advertorial”.  Some examples of marketing gems from Trove Newspapers include:

“Aseptic  Methods in  Modern Dentistry” – absolutely sterile instruments…

“Deadlier than Snake Venom” – food detritus and tooth cavities.

“Mental, Physical and Moral Degeneration” – the link between juvenile delinquency and bad teeth…“Private health really means public morals”.  [Yes! Really.]

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A day book from 1908 lists appointments, treatment and fees charged. It is noted that Mrs Townsend of Highgate Hill had to cut short her treatment on being called away to Albany “her child having broken its collarbone”.

Included in the collection are some original artworks for advertising and for the windows of the company’s offices. A mock-up for a Neon sign is so impressively bright that one is tempted to take it into a darkened room to see if it glows.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also in the advertising ephemera are several metal printer’s engraving plates that are wonderful works of art in their own right.

0050 (5)

Metropolitan Dental Company collection ACC1863A/19

To associate an air of beauty and sophistication with a dental firm is no easy task, but the Metropolitan Dental Company achieved this by employing attractive young women to grace their colourful posters.

The full collection of photographs may be viewed here.

The Metropolitan Dental Company is just one of the private business archives in the State Library Collections. These records provide a view into a past that is so much more vibrant and interesting than we may have thought from viewing black and white photographs.

We are always pleased to hear from members of the community who may have private business records that they would like to be considered for the State Heritage Collections.

Sketchbooks tour the state

IMG_3062__The Nook Sketchbooks_Apr 2016

From DaVinci, to Beethoven, to Hemingway, to Kahlo, sketchbooks have provided a space for the greatest works and stories of our time to grow.

Over 100 sketchbooks displaying the talent of young Western Australians have recently embarked on a tour of 16 WA Public Libraries as part of the Travelling Sketchbook exhibition.

Each year young people aged 12-26 are invited to participate in filling a blank sketchbook with stories, artwork, illustration, collage and more as part of Propel Youth Arts WA’s Sketchbook project. Some are lighthearted and funny, others are deeply personal and all showcase creativity and talent of contributors.

Designed to be browsed and flicked through, the 9 x 14 cm sketchbooks together represent a visual exploration of the  personal lives, interests, and observations of young people growing up in Western Australia in 2016.

Follow the sketchbook journey around Western Australia as they visit a Public Library near you.

 This exhibition is presented by Propel Youth Arts WA with the support of the State Library and Department of Local Government and Communities. 

Sketchbook Tour Itinerary 
1-30 June 2016 
Bunbury Library, 1 Parkfield St Bunbury
Donnybrook Library, 10 Bentley Street Donnybrook

8-29 July 2016 
Katanning Library, Austral Terrace Katanning
Canarvon Library, 18 Egan St Carnarvon

10 – 31 August 2016 
Mandurah Library, 3 Peel St Mandurah
Northam Library, 298 Fitzgerald St Northam

12 September – 10 October 2016 
Broome Library, Hamersley St Broome
Karratha Library, Dampier Hwy Karratha

19 October – 14 November 2016 
Port Hedland Library, Colebatch Way South Hedland
Derby Public Library, Clarendon St Derby

25 November – 15 December 2016 
The Grove Library, 1 Leake St Peppermint Grove

19 December – 7 January 2016 
Fremantle Library, 8 William St Fremantle

25 November – 7 January 2016 
Manjimup Library, Rose St Manjimup

13-31 January 2017 
Esperance Public Library, Windich St Esperance
Kalgoorlie Public Library, 13 Roberts St South Kalgoorlie

1-24 February 2017 
Mount Barker Public Library, Lowood Road Mount Barker

IMG_3147__The Nook Sketchbooks_Apr 2016

Final week to see Unfinished Business

The statement ‘without stories there is silence’ powerfully captures the essence of this exhibition.

Unfinished Business brings to focus the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are affected by disability through photographs by Belinda Mason and film by Knierim Brothers.

Historically the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples, and the voices of people with disability have been misrepresented, silenced or excluded from documentary histories.

The images and words of this exhibition convey the reality of lives affected by the ongoing historical, social and political impacts of colonialism. The stories represented in the exhibition are not sugar coated. They are raw and honest, attesting to the strength, resilience and power of all participants, and all people with experiences of disability.

IMG_3523__Unfinished Business 12-5-16.jpg

Yamatji man, Marlon Noble with his photograph titled ‘Noble Cause’, Unfinished Business exhibition launch, State Library of Western Australia 12 May 2016.

Photography is a creative expression which is capable of commanding the viewer’s attention. Each photograph has power to open the eyes of the audience, conveying personal stories in an autobiographical way. We have seen this in action, where visitors stop, take time to experience and are visibly moved by the images.

Accessibility is a the core of this exhibition. The Open Access Tours app provides access to additional audio and video material.

Unfinished Business closes 3 June 2016. For more information visit the State Library website.

IMG_3551__Unfinished Business 12-5-16.jpg
IMG_3041__Unfinished Business exhibition_8-4-16.jpg

 

Juniper App

Have you explored our Juniper App?

The Juniper App showcases a series of artworks created in the 1970’s by prolific Western Australian artist Robert Juniper, and the children’s book which they were created for, “Mason Judy”.

Mason Judy is the story of an eight year old boy who is lonely and unhappy when his family moves to a new suburb. He finds a magic stone which transports him to another time and place.  There he meets the Guardian of the Stone, who takes him on a journey to return it to its traditional dwelling place.  Along the way he undergoes many trials which test his strength of character.

20_Juniper_Japara was now a black spot

PWC/231/120: Japara was now a black speck in the purple distance, original illustration by Robert Juniper reproduced in the book, Mason Judy

Author Trevor Todd wrote the  Mason Judy story as part of a creative writing class in 1975; he gave his friends copies of his typed manuscript as Christmas gifts that year, and one of them passed his copy onto Robert Juniper, who offered to illustrate the book.

slwa_b2435548_7

215723PD: Robert Juniper painting, 1977

The State Library was fortunate to acquire Robert Juniper’s work, with the assistance of the State Library’s Foundation.  They are now part of a larger collection of original artworks from children’s literature held by the Library, the Peter Williams Collection.

The development of the App was part of a wider project to provide universal access to the State Library’s rare material through digitisation and brings both the artwork and the story to a whole new audience.

Through the App, users can explore both the story and paintings in depth, and through a supporting education program, explore the social and community environment at the time.   Users can also enjoy listening to a reading by the author, and understand the perspective of an Indigenous curator, whose comments and insight can be seen alongside the artwork.

The Juniper App can be downloaded for iPad or Android tablet using the links below:

download       Android-app-on-google-play.svg

Dads’ Army?

slwa_b4610892_2

Unidentified group of soldiers, 229234PD

Do you know anything about this photograph which is part of the E. L. Mitchell collection? These men were photographed in about 1916 in a makeshift studio. In this image they are wearing caps and in another photograph the same men are wearing hats. A sticker on the back of one of the negatives reads ‘possibly Bunbury camp’.

On close inspection you can see that most of the men are older than the usual young recruits you would expect to see in a photograph from this early stage of the war. You can see both photographs in our catalogue:
A group of soldiers photographed in a makeshift studio wearing their hats and caps, possibly at Forrest Park Military Camp near Bunbury

If you can offer us any clues as to the identity of any of these men or the group to which they belong, please comment at the bottom of this post or beneath the images in our catalogue.

Web Archiving at SLWA

Each year, the State Library of Western Australia contributes hundreds of Western Australian websites to PANDORA, Australia’s web archive. PANDORA is a world class web archive established by the National Library of Australia in 1996.  It is built collaboratively by 11 cultural institutions across the country, with SLWA contributing Western Australian content to this ever-growing national archive.  Websites are selected for their significance, their authority or research value, their representation of social or topical issues, and also to reflect the diversity of our state. These can include the websites of organisations, community groups, individuals, festivals, events, and sites about various topical and political issues, election campaigns, interests and activities.

Freycinet website code

HTML website code

Web archiving involves selecting, copying (but only with the permission of the website owner!), quality checking and preserving specific websites.  For copyright reasons, SLWA can only archive a website if the website owner has given permission, so we will always contact the website publisher to ask permission before we archive.  Once archived, the live website may continue to change or eventually disappear, but the archived instance will remain as it was at the time it was captured.  The average lifespan of web content is difficult to determine, but various estimates suggest that an individual webpage may last on average as little as 100 days. That means that an awful lot of Western Australia’s web presence may be at risk of disappearing at any one time.

Deckchair theatre 2012 website

Deckchair Theatre’s website, captured 8 March 2012

Many of the websites preserved by SLWA are no longer in existence.  For example, we archived the website of the Deckchair Theatre company from 2008, with the final snapshot captured just a few months before the theatre closed in 2012.  We archived websites related to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Perth in 2011, including the official website and the 2011 Commonwealth Festival, which showcased arts and culture in Western Australia at the same time.  These sites lasted until at least 2013, interestingly, but were eventually shut down as they had outlived their immediate usefulness to their creators.  Less attractive perhaps, but just as important historically (and legally), are the websites of the WA health practitioners registration boards – Psychologists, Dentists, Occupational Therapists, Medical Radiation Technologists etc. – which ceased to operate between 2010 and 2012 when national registration came into effect.

Web archiving also preserves changes in information and design over time. Below is how the websites of three state political parties looked at the time of the 2001 WA state election.

Compared to similar websites even during the 2008 state election and 2013 state election, they look very dated today, but that was the current state of the art in web design. With state and federal elections looming in the coming months, SLWA web archivists are already gearing themselves up to capture and preserve the next wave of election-related websites.

The web is an integral part of contemporary life, and increasingly contains information and content that cannot be found in any other medium. By capturing Western Australian websites we are helping to preserve our digital history, culture and experience.

Saved from the skip!

Brabner Harold

Portrait of Harold James Brabner, BA2594

This photograph of World War One soldier, Harold James Brabner, nearly didn’t survive. It is a very large portrait measuring 65 x 41 centimetres which was hanging in the Midland Railway Workshops for many years. When the workshops closed in 1994 it was about to be thrown out but was rescued by someone who appreciated its significance.

The gentleman who rescued the photograph displayed it in his own home for quite some time, despite having no personal connection with the subject of the photograph.That was until 2014 when he saw an article in the West Australian newspaper calling for donations of WWI material to the State Library. He contacted the Library and offered the portrait for our Pictorial collection. Our Conservation staff have done some restoration on it and it has now been digitised and made available online.

The portrait simply has the word “Brabner” on the reverse. Research reveals that he was Harold James Brabner of the 11th Battalion who was killed in action on 17 September 1917 at Bullecourt, Belgium aged 23. His service is commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres. His connection with the Midland Railway Workshops is that he worked as a painter in the locomotive workshop.

Swan_Express_Fri_2_Nov_1917_page_2

Death notice in the Swan Express, Friday 2 November 1917 page 2.

Harold was born in Victoria in 1894 to James and Georgina Brabner nee Sherwell. The couple had another son, George Alexander, in 1896 and a daughter, Nelly, in 1899. By 1906 the family had moved to Bellevue in Western Australia. Both sons enlisted in the 11th Battalion and, sadly, both men lost their lives.

Australias Fighting Sons

Entry for the two Brabner brothers, Australia’s fighting sons of the Empire: portraits and biographies of Australians in the Great War, page 36

The State Library welcomes donations of material relating to the history of Western Australia. Please see our Donations page for more details.

Conservation

Welcome to the Conservation Lab!

We have been updating our space recently. We now have a redesigned space and new equipment to make our job easier and more efficient. Have a look at some before and after shoots below. As we use some of these fun new things we will post updates on this blog – so look out!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before and after lab refurbishment

We haven’t posted here before so let me introduce the team…

The conservation team has the job of caring for the objects in the Library’s collection. We aim to minimise change to collection material and keep it in its best condition for people now and for generations to come. There are five full time staff; two conservators, a book binder and two conservation technicians.

We look after all sorts of objects from those you would usually see in a library to those that are more unexpected (e.g. trowels, shoes, paintings, giant sculptures, etc.)
DSC_0642
Cleaning Maintenance of Akio Makigawa’s Marble Sculpture “Gate to Coalescence”

The work we carry out can generally be divided into two categories; preventative work or a treatment.

Preventative conservation aims to avoid damage to items by looking after the environmental conditions, educating staff and clients about handling of heritage items, housing material appropriately and running an Integrated Pest Management program.  As part of this program we inspect all items coming into the collection for bugs, mould and assess how dirty they are.
Mould example for blog
Mould infested receipt book.

Treatments may range from something very minor such as erasing an accidental lead pencil mark to a major treatment like rebuilding an item without all the original pieces. In our treatments we aim to use minimal intervention and for every treatment to be reversible.

Ladder before   Ladder after
Panorama of Perth Water (Before and after treatment)  Panorama of Perth water taken from Jacob’s Ladder [BA689]

Rob before    Rob After
Crew of Rob Roy (Before and after treatment)  Crew of Rob Roy [5203B]

Unfinished Business

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this exhibition contains images and names of deceased persons.

Without stories there is silence. 
Without stories told, we are voiceless. 
Without our stories heard , we are invisible. 
This is very hard, when the stories are hard to hear,
difficult to see and impossible to imagine.

Unfinished Business
 reveals the visual stories of 30  Indigenous Australian’s with disabilities, by photographer Belinda Mason and film makers Knierim Brothers.

Belinda Mason’s photographs present some of the untold stories, which are part of the social and cultural fabric of Western Australia, and the nation.

“Every story is complex and intertwined with Australia’s political and social history, which has resulted in today’s unacceptably high rates of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities….Through their involvement in the project each participant draws much-needed attention to critical issues that impact on their lives. Participants of the exhibition live with a wide range of disability experiences – acquired, congenital, sensory, psychological, intellectual, visible and invisible.”-  Belinda Mason

The exhibition includes a number of photographs of individuals from Western Australian regional areas including Mowanjum, Geraldton, and Carnarvon.

One of the West Australian’s featured is June Oscar, a woman of Bunuba descent. June Oscar is the Grandmother of Hudson who has Feotal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

June Oscar

The Matriarch, June Oscar. Photograph by Belinda Mason. 

“I am the Grandmother of Hudson. It was not right that our little children were growing up in this environment who are living their lives with unique and complex needs as a result of alcohol exposure in utero. So in 2007 the women got together and made a strong and final decision that we would apply for alcohol restrictions in our community. We want our people to know that, this is their community, that this community cares about them and that we are prepared to make the hard decisions and stand up”

Accessibility is at the heart of this exhibition. People with sensory, cognitive and learning impairments are able to engage with the exhibition through OpenAcessTours a mobile app available for apple and android devices.

The power of this exhibition lies in its ability to evoke empathy,  as Mason explains,

“We cannot argue when someone says ‘I feel…’ – it is not our right. It is part of our own journey to learn empathy rather than compassion. Our reaction exposes us to to ourselves, and reminds us that we all need the ability to listen when someone lays their soul naked in our path”.

Gary Umbagai

The Hanging Tree, Gary Umbagai. Photograph by Belinda Mason

Unfinished Business is on display at the State Library until 3 June 2016. For more information visit our website.

  • Copies of the book of the same name can be purchased from the State Library Shop
  • Parental guidance is advised for young children visiting the exhibition
  • The State Library is a wheelchair accessible venue

Baffling bridge…

008366PD Baffling bridge

Unidentified bridge 008366PD

Flushed with success at having our last two mystery photographs identified we thought we’d try this one, a glass negative from the E.L. Mitchell collection. Once again the terrain suggests the south west, probably taken c.1920. The name on the store is not legible but we are sure that someone in our community will recognise the bridge and be able to name the store. See close-up of the store with horse-drawn buggies below.

Scroll down to the Leave a reply icon to make a comment.

Unidentified_bridge_008366PD

Close-up of store 008366PD