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Capstan Navy Cut : HMAS AUSTRALIA (I)

Date: 1920
Overall: 607 x 452 x 13 mm, 1652 g
Medium: Tin
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Visual communication
Object Name: Sign
Object No: 00046754

User Terms

    This advertisement was produced by WD & HO Wills and features HMAS AUSTRALIA (I), the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy. During the 1920s tobacco companies regularly incorporated naval themes or depictions of sporting stars and actors in the designs printed on their advertising, packaging or promotional products. Signs like this were distributed to corner stores and other retail outlets where Capstan Navy Cut tobacco was sold.
    SignificanceThis advertisment is an excellent example of Australian pride in the ships and crew of the Royal Australia Navy following its formation in 1911, and the use of its flagship HMAS AUSTRALIA (I) for advertising purposes.
    HistoryHMAS AUSTRALIA (I) was an Indefatigable class battle cruiser launched in 1911 and later commissioned as the first flagship of the Royal Australian Navy. It was built by John Brown and Co Ltd at Glasgow and sailed for Australia in 1913 after extensive gun, torpedo and machinery trials. It led the Australian Fleet Unit consisting of MELBOURNE, SYDNEY, ENCOUNTER, YARRA, WARREGO and PARRAMATTA into Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913. It was the embodiment of the Commonwealth of Australia's sea power, and as the flagship of the new Fleet, was the focal point of public interest. AUSTRALIA visited most of Australia's main ports in the first year and several songs and music compositions were dedicated to the vessel.

    In World War I HMAS AUSTRALIA was active in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans during which time the ship became the first battle cruiser to launch an aircraft in 1918 (light cruiser HMAS SYDNEY (I) was the first Australian ship to launch an aircraft in 1917). In the Pacific AUSTRALIA took part in seizing German Pacific colonies and destroying their radio networks. In the Atlantic it took part in sweeps, patrols and convoy escort tasks particularly in the North Sea and was present at the surrender of the German Fleet at Firth of Forth, Scotland in November 1918. HMAS AUSTRALIA arrived back in Australia in 1919.

    After the war, AUSTRALIA resumed normal duties in Australian waters until December 1921 when a lack of funding saw the vessel paid off into reserve. Most of the vessel's useful equipment and fittings were removed, and eventually it was decided to scrap AUSTRALIA under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 (which aimed at reducing global tonnage of warships after World War I). In January 1924 AUSTRALIA was sold for a mere £3,000, and on 12 April the battle cruiser was scuttled by demolition charges off Sydney Heads. In attendance were HMA Ships BRISBANE and ANZAC, and HM Ships DEHLI, DANAE, DAUNTLESS and DRAGON of the British Light Cruiser Squadron, and steamers crowded with spectators. The vessel disappeared amid almost as much fanfare as when it first arrived in Australia only 11 years previously.

    W.D. & H.O. Wills (part of the Imperial Tobacco Company) operated in Britain in the nineteenth century and by the 1920s had established a factory in suburban Kensington in Sydney. Capstan Navy Cut was a cigarette made by W.D & H.O. Wills and was often associated with the RAN in advertisements. During the first half of the twentieth century, tobacco and cigarettes were popular items for consumers, particularly men and were advertised widely by competing manufacturers. Capstan Navy Cut tobacco was included in packages prepared by the Australian Comfort Fund for Australian military personnel serving during World War I.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: 'Capstan Navy Cut Tobacco' advertisment featuring HMAS AUSTRALIA (I)

    Assigned title: Capstan Navy Cut : HMAS AUSTRALIA (I)

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