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2010/79/1 Mortuary table, porcelain, made by R Fowler Ltd and ACI Stonite Ware (possibly Australian Consolidate Industries Ltd), Australia, used at St Joseph's Hospital, Auburn, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1940. Click to enlarge.

Mortuary table used at St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn

Made by Australian Consolidated Industries Ltd

This mortuary table was used at St Joseph’s Hospital in the suburb of Auburn, Sydney, Australia from the 1940s to the 1960s. It was used for both teaching and medical purposes. It was also used to prepare bodies for transport to funeral homes.

The practice of post mortem, human dissection and embalming has been recorded as far back as 3,000 BC in Ancient Egypt. Autopsies and body preparation have been a part of nearly all cultures for religious, legal and educational purposes. Some cultures are...

Summary

Object No.

2010/79/1

Object Statement

Mortuary table, porcelain, made by R Fowler Ltd and ACI Stonite Ware (possibly Australian Consolidate Industries Ltd), Australia, used at St Joseph's Hospital, Auburn, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1940

Physical Description

The table is made from solid porcelain. The object comprises the table or 'slab' on which the body is placed; three legs - one at the head (superior) end, and two at the foot (inferior) which also support the drainage sink. Two porcelain plugs fit inside the outside edge of the table above the sink.

Marks

Printed on side of basin 'Fowler Ware / K865'. Printed on the side of the table top 'ACI Stonite'

Dimensions

Height

750 mm

Width

780 mm

Production

Notes

The legs and basin were made by Fowler Australia, c. 1940. The table top was made by ACI Stonite (possibly this refers to Australian Consolidate Industries Ltd)

The company R. Fowler Limited was established in Ultimo, Sydney, in 1837 when Enoch Fowler (1807-1879) came to Australia from Ireland, relocating to Glebe in 1847, and Camperdown between 1858-1863. Robert (1839-1906) joined the company, and took over in 1873, changing the name to R.Fowler Sydney in 1880. His son, Robert opened further sites at Marrickville and Bankstown, the company becoming R. Fowler Limited in 1919. There have been numerous developments in subsequent decades, and the company still operates in 2010.

Australian Consolidated Industries Ltd was formed in 1939 when Australian Glass Manufacturers Co Ltd changed it's name to reflect a greater diversity of products.
(Guide to Australian Businesses http://www.gabr.net.au/biogs/ABE0013b.htm)

The table is made from porcelain which is a ceramic product that has been baked at high temperatures to achieve vitreous qualities and low porosity. Because of the matter that is dealt with on a mortuary table, porcelain is a excellent material - it is very strong, and cleans very easily.

Most mortuary tables are now manufactured in stainless steel.

History

Notes

This mortuary table was used in the mortuary at St Joseph's Hospital, Auburn, from the 1940s and 1950s. The mortuary at St Joseph's was little used after the 1950s, as post-mortems were being done in specialist centres by then. The mortuary was converted to a laundry in the 1990s and one of the graduate nurses of St Joseph's, Lorna Higgs, rescued the table and it was installed as a potting table in her backyard at Yagoona. When she died, her daughter, Pauline Higgs, also a graduate nurse of St Joseph's, was renovating the house at Yagoona and asked if the donor would be interesting in taking the table. Ms Cosgrove did rescue the table; and is also a graduate nurse of St Joseph's. Provenance has been kept from installation at St Joseph's up until this time.

To save the table from damage, and to have the object's importance recognised, Ms Cosgrove donated the mortuary table the Powerhouse Museum in 2010.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Patricia Cosgrove, 2010

Acquisition Date

30 November 2010

Cite this Object

Harvard

Mortuary table used at St Joseph's Hospital, Auburn 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 July 2019, <https://ma.as/409757>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/409757 |title=Mortuary table used at St Joseph's Hospital, Auburn |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=21 July 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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