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  • Title
    Bowman flag, 1806 / said to be by Mary Bowman
  • Creator
  • Call number
    XR 1
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    1 flag - painted silk flag, board mounted, timber framed & glass fronted. - 91 cm. x 220 cm. flag in frame measuring 118 cm. x 255 cm.
  • Scope and Content
    The main part of the flag is square, with 2 pennants attached on the right and rosettes and ribbons (probably used to attach it to a staff) on the left.

    The main square section depicts a painted motif in the form of a Coat of Arms; an emu and kangaroo support a shield on which are roses, thistles and shamrocks. A scroll above the shield bears the word "Unity" and another scroll below the central motif has Nelson's signal "England expects every man will do his duty". The 2 pennants attached to the right of the flag are blank.
  • Source
    Presented by John Bowman's great grandchildren to Richmond Superior Public School, Nov 1905, thence transferred to the Mitchell Library by the Dept. of Public Instruction, 1916
  • Access Conditions

    Access to this pictures collection via appointment only. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian
  • General note

    This flag was flown by John Bowman on his farm Archerfield, Richmond NSW, after receiving news of the victory of the Battle of Trafalgar reached NSW in April 1806. The flag is the first recorded use of the kangaroo and emu as supporters of a shield, and may be the origin of their use on the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.
    An account of the battle and victory, on 21 October 1805, was published in The Sydney Gazette on 13 April 1806. A day of thanksgiving was ordered by Governor King for the following Sunday at which 'all persons not prevented by sickness or the necessary care of their dwellings are expected to attend.'
    According to the Bowman family, the flag was made either by Mary Bowman, John Bowman's daughter, from her mother Honor's wedding dress, or by Honor Bowman, John's wife. Mary, born in 1797, was aged nine years at the time.
    It is unlikely that Honor or Mary Bowman painted the image, which appears to be the work of a professional sign painter.

    A B & W. photo of the flag before restoration & a manuscript label received with the flag are held at Ab 28.

    Origin of Australian arms / WA Gullick. Sydney: [Govt Printer], 1914; Flag of stars / Frank Cayley. Adelaide: Rigby, 1966
    Margot Riley ""The Bowman familys' Trafalgar flage: symbol of patriotism or Australian Nelsoniana"", Australiana, August 2005, p.32-35
    Digital order no:Album ID : 874374
  • Conservation note

    Restored in 1977 by the Fremantle Branch of the Western Australian Museum (details of this work at PXn 195).

    Oil [?] paint is brittle and much has fallen away, with surface crazing across what remains.
  • Topic
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