Pearling industry collection




An extensive collection of material relating to the Australian pearling industry from the 1870s to the 1990s comprising objects such as hard hat diving suits and helmets, pearl culture tools and equipment, a model of the lugger COONAGLEBAR II, and the vessel in the Australian National Maritime Museum fleet the JOHN LOUIS - a 1957 pearling lugger. Other material includes photographs, oral histories, scrapbooks and official reports on the industry. The major part of the archival material is formed by the Denis George collection, which consists of an extensive record of George's involvement with the pearling industry in northern Australia and New Guinea from the 1940s to the 1990s, including letters, agreements, newspaper and magazine cuttings, photographs, postcards, lugger log books, government corrospondence, tourist brochures, industry reports and other mostly paper based ephemera.

The JOHN LOUIS is a 1957 pearling lugger in the Australian Maritime Museum fleet of historic vessels and is one of the last luggers built along traditional lines and one of the last vessels to work the pearling grounds in north western Australia in the 1980s, after pearl farming changed the nature of the industry. The major component of the other objects and archives relating to the pearling industry were bequeathed to the Australian Maritime Museum by Denis George (1917-2001) a Greek migrant to Australia in the 1940s. George became involved in the then nascent pearl culture and farming industry. The collection is an outstanding documentation of the material objects and archival material related to the Australian pearl culture industry, and of George's role in this. It comprises cultured spherical and blister pearls, pearl shell jewellery and components, numerous shells of different pearl and other species with and without pearl blisters, pearl culturing and processing equipment made and used by Denis George, diving equipment made and used by Denis George and his family, books and journals, albums, notebooks, research notes, personal papers, photographs, slides, video and audio cassettes.

Some material included in this collection may be subject to copyright

By appointment only, please contact ANMM

Parts of this collection are digitised and available on the ANMM web site


1872-1996; Pearling; Pearls; Working life

Archives; Boats; Brochures; Letters; Photographs

Coverage Spatial

Australia; Papua New Guinea

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:40