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H3785 Desk calendar, phenol-formaldehyde / metal / paper, made by Union Manufacturing Company Ltd, Arncliffe, New South Wales, Australia, 1934. Click to enlarge.

Desk calendar and ink wells

The museum's plastics collection began in the 1930s with the acquisition of specimens of plastic raw materials and finished products. The collection was driven largely by Arthur de Ramon Penfold (1890-1980), a former industrial chemist who worked as curator and later director of the museum from 1927 until 1955.

Throughout the early 1900s the Sydney Technical College and the Sydney Technological Museum held similar aims and objectives regarding the promotion, use and development of local …


Object No.


Object Statement

Desk calendar, phenol-formaldehyde / metal / paper, made by Union Manufacturing Company Ltd, Arncliffe, New South Wales, Australia, 1934

Physical Description

A brown coloured plastic wedge-shaped desk calendar. There are two plastic ink wells and cover for them with a handle with metal screws which locks into place. There are two metal prongs for rectangular paper calendar inserts along the top. There are two raised images of waratahs and the word 'TELOPEA' in the middle of the two.


There is raised lettering in the middle of the desk calendar which reads, 'TELOPEA". There is further raised text on the underneath verso which reads in a circle, 'UNION / ARNCLIFFE. / SYDNEY / MFG. CO. LT.D.' There is another circle with raised lettering which reads, 'REG. / 10556 / NO.'.



135 mm


190 mm


240 mm



This desk calendar was produced by Union Manufacturing Company Limited of Arncliffe in Sydney. It was produced in 1934. It is made of phenol-formaldehyde moulding powders.



This plastic desk calendar was donated to the museum in 1934 along with a cigarette case made of the same material. Initially they were donated to be exhibited in the Plastics Exhibition held in Turner Hall of the Sydney Technical College on 26-28 September 1934. A Conversazione was held in conjunction with the exhibition to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Sydney Technical College Chemical Society. An invitation to the event stated:

'The development of a new industry - the Plastics Industry - during the life of the Society provides a fitting opportunity for bringing under notice the wizardry of the Chemist's Art.

The Plastics Industry exemplifies in a very striking manner one of the greatest achievements of our time'

After the 1934 Plastics Exhibition Arthur Penfold wrote to the Union Manufacturing Company requesting that they donate these objects to the Museum. The donors were pleased to donate them.

This object is made of phenol-formaldehyde moulding powders. In 1945 Penfold wrote that phenol-formaldehyde: ' ... is the principal plastic manufactured in Australia.' (Penfold, 1945)


Arthur Penfold, Memorandum to the Secretary of the Public Service Board, 'Reports on Plastics Investigation, 1945 in the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom, Sydney Technological Museum, 1945, p. 1.

The Sydney Technical College Chemical Society, Invitation to the Conversazione, 1934.


Credit Line

Gift of the Union Manufacturing Co Ltd, 1934

Acquisition Date

8 October 1934

Cite this Object


Desk calendar and ink wells 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 June 2022, <>


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