NotesThe design of the Golden Fleece ram
Information provided by Wayne Robertson, November 2018, son of the original designer of David, the Golden Fleece the ram.
Alfred Moxon Simpson, AC, CMG, (1910-2001)
Alfred Moxon Simpson (known as Moxon) was one of the leaders of South Australia's commercial life and one of the State's foremost manufacturers. He was the great-grandson of Alfred Simpson, the tinsmith who founded the Simpson family company in 1853.
Moxon served his family's firm, the whitegoods company 'A. Simpson and Sons Pty Ltd', for 55 years, 26 of them as Chairman. From humble duties he rose steadily in the hierarchy of the company and at an early age was forced to accept greater responsibility due to the ill health of his father, Allen, and his uncle, Fred. Moxon became Chairman in 1954 and later guided the company through its merger with Pope Industries in 1963, now known as Simpson Pope Limited.
A member of a leading Adelaide family, Moxon Simpson always maintained an interest in and concern for people across the whole community. This facet was highlighted in a tribute given by Group Chairman, T. B. Simpson, on Moxon's retirement from the Board in 1983. "(Moxon) … endeared himself to all levels of staff throughout our company. His genuine interest in people, involving not only their jobs but also personal problems enabled him to give informed and practical advice when it was sought," Mr Simpson said.
Moxon was awarded the CMG (Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George) in 1959 and the AC (Companion of the Order of Australia) 1978.
Arthur Douglas Robertson (1919-2000)
My father, Arthur Robertson, was brilliant man with a vivid imagination and total recall. He was a brilliant calligrapher and artisan in vitreous enamelling and metal work. Born at Norwood in Adelaide, he developed an interest in art and writing at an early age. At the age of 14, young Arthur began work at A. Simpson and Sons in Dudley Park. After a short while Moxon Simpson recognised his artistic talents and sent him to the School of Fine Arts in Adelaide to acquire further skills in among other things, signwriting and stencil-cutting. He became Foreman of the Enamel Shop, learning his craft in supervision, production processing and the very tricky science of vitreous enamelling in which he gained international recognition in later years.
The Second World War came along and Arthur began Army service in 1940, the year he met his future wife, Eileen McGovern. Arthur was a trained as a Medical Officer (Medic) in the 3rd Field Ambulance at an Army camp at Woodside (located in the Adelaide Hills). He was due to depart for New Guinea in 1941 with his Army mates.
I often recollect his story that on the eve of departure, all the troops from Woodside and other surrounding Adelaide camps were being loaded aboard a 'troop ship' (its name escapes me) bound for New Guinea. As he a was about to walk up the gang plank, two burly blokes dressed in black trench coats and hats lurched forward and grabbed his arms either side and said to him "you are to come with us, you must not speak to your mates or anyone and must not say anything until you get inside our car, is that understood?" He told me that he was so nervous and thought that he had done something wrong or a case of mistaken identity. In actual fact, he was identified as being among the key personnel needed to maintain efficient wartime production at the Simpson factory as they were producing ammunition, weaponry and aircraft components. It is believed that Moxon Simpson had demanded that Arthur must run production. Arthur was so disappointed at not being able to go off with his mates to New Guinea and contribute to the war effort that he immediately joined the Civil Defence Force as an Air Raid Warden and also became a Civil Defence Force 'Building - First Aider' at Simpson's. His disappointment was exacerbated by the fact that he later found out that 95 percent of his mates were lost when landing at Milne Bay over which he felt survivor's guilt for the rest of his life.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE RAM
From 1946 Arthur and Eileen Robertson lived at Alabama Avenue, Prospect, (about 5 miles north of the Adelaide CBD).
Eileen vividly recalls that in very early 1947 Arthur (then aged 27) was asked by Moxon Simpson to meet with him and an interstate client from H.C. Sleigh's in his office. Arthur was met by Moxon Simpson and Mr Hamilton Morton Sleigh. Hamilton explained to Arthur that as he was creating a new company, he wanted a 'Golden Fleece' symbol that should be represented in a bold, strong and colourful way, something that really stood out but without losing too much of the emblem already associated with his existing company.
Golden Fleece had its beginnings in 1913 when Harold Crofton Sleigh commenced importing Californian motor spirit and marketed it as "Golden Fleece". In April 1933 Sleigh died in Melbourne and his son, Hamilton Morton Sleigh, assumed control of the H.C. Sleigh partnership. Importantly, in 1947 H.C. Sleigh became a publicly listed company, H.C. Sleigh Limited. At that time, the Golden Fleece symbol was a 'ram being hung from its belly'. From what I understand, H.C. Sleigh then began distributing and marketing their own motor spirits as Golden Fleece after several let downs from overseas suppliers, hence the revised company, the revised ram emblem and its timing of 1947.
DESIGN OF THE RAM
Hamilton wanted the emblem to be based on the photo of the champion ram, 'David', that he had chosen. Arthur was presented with a photo of David and was asked to come up with a sketch of how the ram should look. Whatever the outcome, this emblem would need to be replicated in vitreous enamelled signage and displays. Arthur was given one week to come up with a proposed emblem. At that same time Arthur was busily carrying out his work on Simpson's production lines during the day, then ride off on his bike to the School of Fine Arts in Adelaide each night after work (night school) and would come home to have tea and then commence sketching the ram at home on the kitchen table at night.
One week later, Arthur presented the ram sketch to both Moxon and Hamilton. Arthur held up the sketch in Moxon's office and they both stood back and Hamilton said "ah that is great! but…I think the ram should look a bit tougher, Arthur, can you make the testicles a little bigger"
Mum said that Arthur spent several days at the kitchen table altering the size of the ram's testicles. Mum said that in those days, testicles and other such words were never uttered and so neither Mum or Dad ever discussed the drawing's issues and alterations but Mum knew, with a little smile on her face. Hence to this day, the Golden Fleece symbol definitely has more pronounced and larger testicles than the champion ram 'David' ever did.
Arthur went on to be a world pioneer in the art of 'enamelling on aluminium' in the late 1960s, early 70s. You may recall the pots and pans with coloured lids and sides?
Arthur and Moxon established and maintained a very healthy friendship and both displayed total respect for each other throughout their lives. Moxon attended Arthur's funeral in 2000, and our family members attended Moxon's funeral in 2001.