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Queensland Museum: Social History collection

Marks items, Social History collection, Queensland Museum

The collection comprises over 2600 items, the bulk of which are domestic objects from the Marks family home at 101 Wickham Terrace. The collection is the result of a series of donations since 1919. While domestic and personal items predominate, the collection is also rich in weapons (edged weapons and firearms), clocks and watches, costume, and scientific and medical items.

The first items received, in 1919, were from Pat Marks’s grandfather Charles Ferdinand Marks: a piece of raw rubber and a leg iron and chain, part of what by 1942 was a small but curious collection of a dozen items including a drum made from two human skulls (H65) and a Burmese receipt written on a palm leaf (H426).

The source of the largest number of items (almost 1350 objects) was Pat Marks’s aunt Edris (EMB) Marks), who inherited 101 Wickham Terrace from Pat’s grandmother Elizabeth. The bulk of these items came to the Museum in 1978 from Edris’s estate following her death in 1977. While most of the items from Edris are domestic, the collection also includes some eight Chinese coins and a Wakizashi sword (H15585).

Of the remainder of the Marks collection, some 960 items are from Pat Marks herself, most from 1982 when she vacated 101 Wickham Terrace to move to Samford. Again, the majority of items are domestic in nature, though they do include some medical objects and some relating to her scientific life, including two microscopes. They also include a ball gown made in about 1890 by the Brisbane dressmaker Janet Walker for Barbara Jane Drury, wife of the first General Manager of the Queensland National Bank, Edward Robert Drury (H42023), and now restored with support from the Marks family. Drury’s writing case (H46554) followed, from Pat Marks’s estate in 2003, after her death the previous year.

The collection includes small numbers of items from other members of the family, including 10 from Pat’s father Ted (EO Marks), donated between 1935 and (posthumously through Pat) 1982.

The Janet Walker gown apart, some of the most spectacular Marks items in the collection came from Pat’s uncle Alec Marks, mostly in 1944. They include a significant collection of Asian edged weapons, and some important firearms, notably a pair of Parker four-barrelled pistols (c.1830, H2029 and H2030), and a pair of Manton percussion pistols (c.1850, H2022 and H2023). However, Alec Marks’s most important donation was a bracket clock by the master 18C clockmakers Tompion and Banger (1706, H4), an item of international significance.

In terms of the Queensland Museum’s classification scheme for social history items, the collection holds more than 20 items in each of the following areas:

Arms and Armour 90 items
Buildings 49 items
Commerce 66 items
Costume 73 items
Costume accessories 125 items
Domestic equipment 492 items
Food technology 21 items
Furniture 21 items
Handcrafts 130 items
Horology (clocks and watches) 43 items
Lighting 59 items
Medicine 154 items
Personal effects 125 items
Personal toiletries 94 items
Photography 32 items
Recreations 64 items
Sciences 162 items
Tools 50 items
Toys 56 items
Trades 91 items
Packages and containers 236 items
Numismatics – medals and other 30 items

Marks Family Collections

Queensland Museum: Social History collection