We acknowledge Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and give respect to Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
2011/32/1 School case, 'Status Fibre School Case', composite fibre / metal / paper, made by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, used by Nicole Balmer, attending Mosman Infants School, New South Wales, Australia, 1971-1973. Click to enlarge.

'Status Fibre School Case' by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd

This fibre school case was made in Sydney and used in the early 1970s by a school girl living and attending a NSW state primary school in the harbour-side suburb of Mosman.

Throughout most of the twentieth century generations of Australian school children carried fibre school bags to school. The most famous case was the "Globite" made in Sydney by Ford Sherington & Co. of Waterloo in Sydney. These were certainly very sturdy, being made of vulcanised rather than composite fibre, and much more expensive than most other school bags such this "Status Fibre School Case", made by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd of Sydney.

This school case is significant because the donor has provided first hand memories of using the bag and it remained in her possession from 1973, continuing to store her Barbie dolls and clothes, until 2008. To add to this, copies of photographs of the donor going to and from school with the case and at school provide a valuable pictorial record. The memories, photographs and the school case itself with its smiley face and Norco milk stickers, Dymo name tape label, water and wear marks, and childish handwriting on the inside name label provide a snapshot of attending primary school in Sydney in the 1970s.

With concerns from health professionals that heavy school cases were causing back strain and curvature of the spine from being only carried in one hand, many schools in New South Wales had changed over to the backpack style by the mid. 1980s.

Margaret Simpson
Curator, Transport & Toys
January 2011


Object No.


Object Statement

School case, 'Status Fibre School Case', composite fibre / metal / paper, made by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, used by Nicole Balmer, attending Mosman Infants School, New South Wales, Australia, 1971-1973

Physical Description

School case, 'Status Fibre School Case', composite fibre / metal, made by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd, Sydney, used by Nicole Balmer, attending Mosman Infants School, New South Wales, Australia, 1971-1973

Cardboard school case with brown-painted metal handle, two plated spring-loaded metal locking fasteners by Cheney, an internal metal frame and eight external metal corners for reinforcing. Inside the case there are an additional four internal reinforcing corners and the lid stay strap has been replaced. The inside lid has a manufacturer's label for the owner to write their name and address. Decorative children's stickers on the inside and outside of the lid have been added by the owner. On the outside top of the case is a strip of green Dymo tape which notes the owner's name, Nicole Balmer.


Inside lid,printed sticker 'MADE BY / CONSOLIDATED PLASTIC INDUSTRIES PTY LTD / SYDNEY.N.S.W'.Also handwritten inscription with owner details.



130 mm


365 mm


250 mm



According to the label on the inside lid of the case it was a "Status Fibre School Case" made by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd of Sydney. In 1954 this firm was located at 240 Cleveland Street, on the corner of Regent Street, Redfern, an inner-city Sydney suburb. It is known that this firm also made brush and comb sets, beauty cases and bags.



This school bag was used by Nicole Balmer of Mosman, a harbour-side suburb in Sydney, while she attended Mosman Infants School in the early 1970s. Nicole provided these memories of her school days and using the bag:

"I think I started Kindergarten at Mosman Infants School in 1971.

This suitcase is the first case I owned as I had a larger one when I left Infant school and moved to Primary school. I would have owned the larger one until I changed schools in third class, in the last term, and went to Queenwood. Everyone at Queenwood took a grey vinyl bag with a red Q on the side.

This suitcase has a Norco sticker on the outside which I think was given away as a dairy promotion. In infants school we still received free milk at morning tea so it might have been associated with that but I can't remember. I still remember the little glass milk bottles with the foil lids. They were stored in trays in a concrete box/shelf at the entrance to the school. I can still remember how it tasted when it went off in the sun.

Inside the interior of the case, the smiley face stickers are cut out from left over sticky backed plastic that my Mum used to line the drawers of my new desk which Dad made about that time. The stickers of the little girl and Santa were from a packet Mum had purchased as Christmas gift tags. I thought they were very special and horded them for a long time before I could bring myself to use them.

I don't really remember what I used to carry in the case. I don't remember having homework or having to bring my own pencils. I know I took cotton hankies with cartoon pictures on them because I can remember the horror when one dropped out of my uniform and went down the toilet.

Initially, I would have had a toothbrush too as Dad forced me to take one in Kindy to brush my teeth with at lunch time. I don't think that lasted long, so then for the rest of my school life I would be forced on the way to school to eat either a carrot or a piece of celery.

The case must have carried my lunch, but the only thing I can remember at that age is sitting on the bench to each lunch under the trees, unwrapping a vegemite sandwich and realising I was fed up with always having them. Mum always used white bread and cut them into three fingers, cutting off the side crust but leaving the top. I also think they were wrapped in miles of glad wrap. I don't think I owned a lunch box.

At some stage in primary school, I can also remember mum using a white plastic sandwich bag printed with pictures of cartoon animals or monsters on the side, and as it was the days before zip lock they had a little turn over at the top. I had to make sure I brought them home again so Mum could keep re-using them.

I don't think I bought lunch from the tuck shop very often. I remember the first time I did, I ordered a meat pie and sauce and a finger bun with pink icing. It was a scaring experience as at four and a half I didn't have the skills to eat tidily and remember being covered in food and crying.

I vividly remember drinking from the bubblers at school but I can also remember occasionally having cordial in a round plastic drink bottle with a little cup lid.

In third class I can remember the mortification of pureed apple leaking all over the interior of the suitcase.

I probably carried a grey school jumper and possibly my yellow plastic raincoat. There would not have been a hat as I never wore a hat to school for sun protection.

I certainly carried toys to school in the case too and I remember a time when I played a lot in the girl's toilets and pushed paper boats around the floors. The boats were made from folded newspaper.

To get to school it was a 10 minute walk which I did with my Mother or sometimes I was picked up by my friend's father Mr Bower, and Rebecca and I would go to school together. By high school the smell of my morning celery in the car was enough to turn Rebecca off celery for life.

At some stage after I stopped using the case it turned into a closet to hang my Barbie doll clothes. Dad made loops to hold the hangers and glued them to the top of the case inside. The Barbies stayed in the case until last week (2007) when I gave them to my daughter."


Credit Line

Gift of Nicole Balmer, 2011

Acquisition Date

31 May 2011

Cite this Object


'Status Fibre School Case' by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 1 March 2021, <https://ma.as/416303>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/416303 |title='Status Fibre School Case' by Consolidated Plastic Industries Pty Ltd |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=1 March 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}