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2010/11/19 Sandwich doily, embroidered, linen / cotton, Sydney Harbour Bridge design, maker unknown, Australia, 1932. Click to enlarge.

Embroidered sandwich doily, ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’

Made in Australia, Oceania, 1932.
This sandwich doily featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge forms part of a collection of 19th and 20th century Australian embroidery and needlework, given to the Museum by Ian Rumsey and known as the Ian Rumsey Australian Textiles Collection. The collection was assembled by the donor, a private collector, over two decades and includes doilies, milk jug covers, tablecloths, placemats, towels, banners, aprons, samplers, runners and cushion covers, all featuring Australian motifs. Ian Rumsey was drawn to embroidery and needlework for its extensive use of Australian flora and fauna and other motifs which specifically reference Australia; he collected only well-preserved examples. The use of Australian motifs is strongly indicative of a shift away from the design influences of the United Kingdom towards a more inclusive Australian aesthetic.

The collection represents an important pastime of Australian women of the late 19th to mid 20th century. Women's focus was the home and its decoration was important. Embroidery and crochet work was an affordable way to personalise and add aesthetic value, and examples of embroidered and crocheted pieces could be found in most Australian homes, decorating or protecting furniture, floors and walls, and keeping off flies and insects from food. Embroidery and crochet work provided a much needed creative outlet for some and a restful leisure activity for others, as a way to commemorate significant events or supplement the family income.



Object No.


Object Statement

Sandwich doily, embroidered, linen / cotton, Sydney Harbour Bridge design, maker unknown, Australia, 1932

Physical Description

Sandwich doily, embroidered, linen / cotton, Sydney Harbour Bridge design, maker unknown, Australia, 1932

A hand embroidered cream linen sandwich doily. It is rectangular in shape and bulges at both ends. It features a Sydney Harbour Bridge design in red, light blue, green and brown thread. On the water underneath the bridge is a small boat, embroidered in red and brown thread. The bridge and boat are encircled by an oval stitched with light blue thread and there is a bouquet of green leaves at each end. The edge has been crocheted in two different shades of blue.



280 mm



Australia, Oceania 1932


The design of this small indented oval sandwich doily features the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a small boat passing underneath it. The embroidery is worked on the linen ground in stem and chain stitch in red, brown, grey and green cotton thread. The mat is edged with a frilled crocheted edging in two or three shades of blue.



Part of a collection of well-preserved Australian needlework and embroidery of the early to mid 1900s, featuring Australian motifs and assembled by the donor Ian Rumsey over two decades. One of the principal sources for his collection was the late Nerylla Taunton, a widely respected Sydney antiques dealer who specialised in needlework and was a registered Australian government valuer for this class of object.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened on Saturday 19th March, 1932.


Credit Line

Gift of Ian Rumsey, 2010

Acquisition Date

23 March 2010

Cite this Object


Embroidered sandwich doily, 'Sydney Harbour Bridge' 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 4 August 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Embroidered sandwich doily, 'Sydney Harbour Bridge' |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=4 August 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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