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National Museum of Australia

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Set of banjo shaped Chinese scales used for weighing gold and herbs, Ballarat


Set of banjo shaped Chinese scales used for weighing gold and herbs, Ballarat

Object information

Physical description

A set of brown coloured wooden banjo shaped Chinese scales. The scales consist of two identical hollowed shaped pieces of wood forming a base and lid. Inside there is a bone or ivory measuring rod with a rectangular metal weight and metal scoop with twine attached. A piece of rope holds the two wooden frames together as does a round plaited loop.

Statement of significance

The Victorian Goldfields collection comprises material related to gold mining primarily around the Ballarat region in the late 1800s. It includes gold mining equipment (two picks, a rope ladder, safety hook, windlass, mining cart), gold mining related objects (candle boxes, Chinese scales), gold mining images (including an S.T. Gill lithograph) and gold mining related documents (police gazette of 1853 - 55, a large folio of goldfields maps, goldmining company documents).

The discovery of gold in Victoria transformed the fledgling colony and had a lasting effect on Australian culture and society. Objects directly related to the extraction of gold in the early gold rush days of Victoria are extremely rare, and therefore this collection of gold mining equipment has great significance. S.T. Gill is considered perhaps the most important artist of the Victorian goldfields, and his lithograph of gold mining activity at Ballarat has great historic value. The police gazette features reports on the Eureka Stockade, a pivotal moment in Australian history and the maps and other documents from this time are extremely rare and have great significance.

Object information

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