The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
Rugs made from native animal skins are often mentioned in nineteenth and twentieth century sources. During the 1850s goldrushes, frequent reference is made to possum and kangaroo skins rugs being sold by Aboriginal people to the diggers. In 1881 James Dawson described such rugs as ‘A good rug is made from fifty to a hundred skins, which are stripped off the opossum, pegged out square or oblong on a sheet of bark, and dried before the fire, then trimmed with a reed knife and sewn together with th...
Rug, platypus, skin/ felt, New South Wales, Australia, 1880-1930
Rectangular rug made from approximately eighty platypus skins. The rug is edged with a band of possum skins and backed with fawn felt. The felt has a pinked edge. The platypus skin has been cut to form a diamond pattern and the dark back fur and gold belly fur arranged to form a complex diamond pattern.
The skins were collected by Charles Bulwinkel in the 1880s and 1890s from Duck Creek and Emigrant Creek which flowed through his property and which are tributaries of the Richmond River in northern New South Wales. On Bulwinkel's death in 1918, the skins passed to his daughter Mrs Greta Denison who had them stitched into a rug. It is not clear if the possum skin edge dates from this period or was added later. The skins were professionally tanned and sewn together.
The skins were collected by Charles Bulwinkel in to 1880s and 1890s from Duck Creek and Emigrant Creek which flowed through his property and which are tributaries of the Richmond River in northern New South Wales. Charles Bulwinkel was one of the early settlers on the north coast. He originally went there to set up the sugar mill at Harwood on the Clarence River and eventually took up land at Alstonville which he called 'Fountaindale'. This land was later sold to Norco Co-op for their factory at Alstonville.
On his death in 1918 the skins passed to his daugther Mrs Greta Denison who in the 1920s or 1930s had them sewn into a rug for her home 'Boomerang' in East Ballina. Mrs Denison never used the rug and on her death it passed to Mr AW (Fred) Holland. It is thought that Mr Holland put it into the auction sale.