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Heart shaped pin cushion 'Think of Me' : HMAS SYDNEY (I)

Date: c 1915
Overall: 80 x 240 x 235 mm, 550 g
Medium: Cloth, plastic, silver gelatin print on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Pincushion
Object No: 00006919

User Terms

    This heart-shaped pin cushion with the words 'Think of me' formed in pins, was a favourite theme of sailors in the British Royal Navy in the 19th century. Keepsakes such as these were made by sailors in the navy as love tokens for girlfriends and fiancees at home. Decorated with glass beads and a postcard photograph of HMAS SYDNEY (I), this pin cushion was presumably made by a sailor of the ship shortly after its commissioning in 1913. Many Royal Naval sailors transferred into the new Australian force, bringing their traditions with them.
    SignificanceThis rare pincushion has a vividly personal character. It exemplified a traditional hobby or handcraft among sailors in past times, and evokes a strong sense of the personal life. Its particular association with HMAS SYDNEY links it to the ships, the men, and the Royal Naval traditions of Australia's new navy. The use of the SYDNEY'S picture suggests the pride and interest felt generally in Australia's new fleet.
    HistoryBeaded and embroidered keepsakes like this were made by sailors in the navy during the nineteenth century, as love tokens for girlfriends and fiancees; the image of the pierced heart was a popular one.

    The HMAS SYDNEY pin cushion is apparently a late example of what must have been a dying custom by the time it was made . The photograph on it shows the ship in 1913, newly built. This is probably a commercial postcard, since the same photograph appears in Jose's First World War official history. It seems reasonable to assume that the pincushion was made by a sailor in HMAS Sydney in 1913, or soon afterward, when both the ship and the RAN were new. Many Royal Naval sailors transferred into the new Australian force,bringing their traditions with them.

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