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2003/35/9 Billy Tea tin, metal, part of shop stock, Wong family, maker unknown, Australia, 1875-1916. Click to enlarge.

Billy Tea tin

Made in Australia, Oceania, 1875-1916.

General stores were a vital part of the regional communities that developed throughout Australia in the 19th century. They were the link between their communities and the metropolis and to overseas markets. Chinese immigrants were a dominant part of this retail trade across the country. By 1901 there were 800 people of Chinese descent working in NSW shops - a statistic that suggests the existence of several hundred ‘Chinese stores’ in the state.

The significance of this Billy Tea tin derives fr...


Object No.


Object Statement

Billy Tea tin, metal, part of shop stock, Wong family, maker unknown, Australia, 1875-1916

Physical Description

Rectangular metal container for billy tea. The tin does not have a lid. A hole in the top of the tin allows the retailer to dispense the tea. The front and back are labelled 'The BILLY TEA' and have a colour illustration of a man drinking tea with a kangaroo holding a billy and swag. The caption reads ' Hello mate! I always thought you were only a Billy Tea advertisement'. Both sides have an illustration of two men boiling a billy outside a tent, with the text 'The old favourite, Billy Tea'.


No marks



240 mm


210 mm


170 mm



The tin was made in Australia.

The tin was used between 1875 and 1916.


Australia, Oceania 1875-1916



The tin was used to dispense tea at the Wong family store near Crookwell, New South Wales, Australia.
Following the closure of the Wong store in 1916 the stock remained largely undisturbed until the growth in interest in 'Australiana' in the 1970s. At that time restaurateur Peter Doyle bought a considerable amount of stock from Robert Wong who then owned the property. Doyle had known the family since being evacuated to the Crookwell area as a young boy from Watson's Bay in 1942. At that time he visited the farm, was taken into the store and given a 'new' pair of shoes. Over the next 30 years he continued to visit the area and became friends with the Wong family. Having developed an interest in 'Australiana' in the 1970s he bought some of the material still left in the shop.

Doyle passed much of his collection on to Sydney dealer and collector Anne Schofield. She, in turn, donated this to the Museum in 1984. Twelve years later the Museum purchased more shop stock, fittings, account books and family photographs from the family.

In 2002 Peter Doyle donated most of the remaining items that he purchased in the 1970s.
The tin was used between 1875 and 1916.


Credit Line

Gift of Peter Doyle Snr, OAM, 2003

Acquisition Date

6 March 2003

Cite this Object


Billy Tea tin 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 23 August 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Billy Tea tin |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=23 August 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum.

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