Item #CL199-63 [Pearling Luggers] and [Divers, Thursday Island]
[Pearling Luggers] and [Divers, Thursday Island]
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[Pearling Luggers] and [Divers, Thursday Island]

c1905. Two printing-out paper photographs, one with photographer’s line “Nicholas St Austen Studio, Thursday Island” studio line and “no. 1” in negative lower right, 15 x 20.1cm. Missing portions to upper left and lower right corners of one image, tears, perforations and creases, slight fading to both.

One image shows a diver returning to the surface and climbing aboard a pearling lugger with retrieved pearl shells; the other shows a group of six men, one in full diving uniform, while two men hold copper diving helmets.

“Pearling was enormously important to the economy of northern Australia. Beginning in 1868 in the Torres Strait, the industry had a boom and bust cycle, with high points being experienced in the 1870s and 1890s. While pearls were prized, the basis of the industry was the pearling shell [mother of pearl], which was in great demand in Australia, America and Europe for buttons, combs, jewellery, insets in furniture and cutlery set handles.” Ref: SLQ; NLA.

Item #CL199-63

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