Impostor china

Early this year, Bronwyn Woff from Dr. Vincent Clark & Associates presented her interpretations from some interesting finds from the excavation of Cato Street Car Park in Prahran at the Victorian Archaeology Colloquium at La Trobe University.

This area is currently under development to create a multi-functional urban parkland and underground car parking space.

From her analysis Bronwyn was able to make some interpretations regarding social aspirations of the residents as well as ideas regarding raising children and instilling moral values.

BW Colloq Cato presentationTwo styles of china (shown to the left) that were found at the site, at first glance appear the same. However, on closer examination it becomes clear that one is an imitation of the other. On the left are images of soft paste porcelain teaware fragments, which have been decorated with applied Grape Vine sprigs in relief and are of high quality. The fragments on the right are made from whiteware and have been decorated with small blue transfer prints in imitation of the Grape Vine sprigs.

It seems that although the residents of the terraces in which this transfer print were found aspired to own delicate teaware, they could not afford to purchase such items. They were able however, to buy something that was similar, but cheaper and sturdier. This demonstrates that although the residents were not affluent, appearances were still important.

BW Colloq Cato presentation1Other interesting finds were tablewares associated with children (shown to the left). These items, in combination with objects such children’s toys and shoes, can highlight to us not only the presence of children on the site, but also that they were cared for by their parents and guardians. The examples at the top and left would have reminded children of the moral stories they show, such as one of many of Aesop’s Fables in which the Wild Ass sets an example of what not to do by his actions, or the aphorism’s of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard who taught Lessons for Youth on Industry, Temperance and Frugality, and which decorate the cup on the top right.

These findings give an interesting, and very human insight into working class people of early Melbourne.

The Cato Square precinct is projected to be completed in 2019