The EA & VI Crome collection consists of some 20,000 items of postage stamps featuring airmail and space philately plus a large number of envelopes flown and posted back to Mr Crome. Many are signed by the pilots or astronauts.
Ernest Alfred Crome (1902-1987) worked his way up from office boy to manager of the Newtown & Enmore Starr Bowkett Co-operative Building Society. In the 1920s when aviation at nearby Mascot Airport was in its infancy he gave envelopes to pilots to sign and post back to him seeing them as 'miniature log books' of these early experimental flights. It was not until 1939 that he married his wife, Virtie, who continued to encourage him in his hobby.
Ernie Crome went on to form one of the first 'aerophilatelic' collections and may be considered as the joint father of Australian aerophilately, Nelson Eustis (of airmail catalogue fame) being the other. Ernie sold his first collection to the National Library in Canberra in 1965 ('the Crome collection') but soon began to build another. He had made his first donation to the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in 1949 so it was logical for him to continue and 'The EA & VI Crome collection' is made up of a large purchase in 1981 plus many other donations.
The particular strength of Ernie's collection is early Australian aviation from 1910 to 1939. It contains many envelopes posted back to him from private fliers as well as the more famous. Two large selections trace the flights of CTP Ulm and PG Taylor and the Catalina 'Frigate Bird II' was donated by Taylor to the Museum in 1953 at Ernie's instigation. Ernie had been friendly with Taylor since the latter's heroic exploit when he climbed onto the wing of the 'Southern Cross' in 1935 and transferred oil from one engine to the other to save the plane. Much of the airmail carried on that flight was jettisoned but Ernie Crome managed to collect some of the few which survived!
Ernie Crome also saw the space age as a logical development from aviation and he continued to collect space stamps and covers. He was also a noted collector of music, in particular the violin, and he also donated to the Museum in this field.