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Decorative plate from the dowry of Maria Melidis

Date: before 1965
Dimensions:
Overall: 25 x 160 x 160 mm
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Costas Melidis
Object Name: Plate
Object No: 00032458
Place Manufactured:Österreich

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    Description
    This decorative ceramic plate is from Maria Melidis' wedding dowry, which she brought with her when she migrated to Australia to join her husband Costas Melidis. The side plate-sized dish features a woman and man in the centre and a decorative yellow, green and gold rim. The reverse of the dish features a crown atop crossed hammers with 'Austria' written beneath.
    SignificanceThis decorative ceramic plate is a tangible reminder of the mass migration of skilled European workers and their families to Australia during the 'second wave' of post-World War II migration in the 1950s and 1960s. It is a wonderful example of the types of domestic and sentimental items that immigrant women brought with them to Australia.
    HistoryCostas Melidis migrated to Australia from the Greek Island of Limnos in 1964 on the Chandris liner ELLINIS. Sponsored by his brother in Australia, Costas used all his savings and sold his sewing machines to pay 12,000 drachmas for the ticket to Australia. Costas believed there was little future for himself and his family in Greece. He saw Australia as an opportunity for a new and prosperous life, where he would start his own tailoring business.

    ELLINIS was built as LURLINE for the American Matson Line. It was bought by the Chandris Group in September 1963 in response to the boom in the Australian migrant trade. After a brief refit it departed on its first voyage to Australia in December 1963.

    During the voyage to Australia on ELLINIS, Costas won first prize in the fancy dress competition, with a captain's costume he made out of crepe paper. He had seen the competition advertised in the ship's newspaper. Costas was allowed to use the sewing machine on board the ship to sew the costume. He also made a Napoleon-style costume for a fellow passenger to wear in the competition in order to cheer him up. Costas received a Chandris Line key ring as a prize for first place.

    Once in Australia, Costas quickly found tailoring work through his Greek contacts. His first job was at a factory in Taylor Square, Sydney, where he worked for three months before becoming self-employed. Eight months after arriving in Australia, Costas had saved enough money to send for his wife Maria and their two young daughters who were still in Greece. The Melidis family were among 160,200 Greeks who came to Australia between 1947 and 1971.

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