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Reproduced courtesy Estate of Denis George

Collection of 51 documents relating to Denis George

Date: 1958-1999
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the George Family and Adrian Jackson
Object Copyright: © Estate of Denis George
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Archive series
Object No: ANMS1267

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    Description
    This series of 51 documents relate to the Australian pearl maker Denis George. This collection consists of 2 aerogrammes; 1 order form from the Malacological Society of Australia; 3 lists of the members of the Malacological Society of Australia; 1 paper presented by Denis George; 1 Deed of Agreement; 1 set of receipts; 1 set of business cards; and 41 letters relating to pearl distribution, the training of Torres Strait Islanders in pearl cultivation and underwater photographic gear.
    HistoryDenis George (1917-2001), a post-World War II Greek Migrant, was a self-taught pearl maker who found his own way to culture pearls and spent decades from the 1950s to the 1980s experimenting and trying to improve his products. His ambition was to culture a unique Australian pearl. He produced pearls mainly from 'Pinctada maxima' (gold lip pearl) and 'P. Margaritifera' (black lip pearl). He was a maverick in the Australian and Papua New Guinean pearl industry because he refused to collaborate with Japanese pearling companies who dominated pearl culture by keeping their technique secret and forming joint ventures with nationals.

    Denis George was never commercially successful but his achievements were remarkable. Not only did he develop his own way to seed pearl oysters, but he also pioneered the culture of pearls from 'Pteria penguin', a bivalve known as Butterfly Shell which was not then a recognised pearl shell. He was recognised in Japan for his pearling achievements, but was not well known in Australia.

    His efforts extended beyond his own individual interests, in lifelong attempts to establish locally owned and run pearl culture industries in Australia and Indo-Pacific countries. He also strove for recognition of the naturalist William Saville-Kent as the true originator, around 1890, of the cultured pearl technique which the Japanese later claimed as their own and developed as an industry.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Collection of 51 documents relating to Denis George

    Collection title: Denis George Collection

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