Red cedar desk

Earlier this year Griffith Pioneer Park Museum was offered a desk that had been bought at an auction of items from the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission (WC&IC). I was astounded to find it dated from 1879.

This desk was a sort provided to Australian Government employees in the 19th Century. It is believed to have been brought to Griffith for use by WC&IC staff who were based at the Court House, which opened in 1919.

The letters “V R” with a crown on the side of the desk refer to Victoria Regina, Queen of the United Kingdom and colonies including Australia from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. Below these is the date November 1879, indicating when the desk was constructed.

It is constructed from red cedar, a timber that grew widely in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland but was extensively logged by the late 19th Century. Red cedar had become popular very early in Australia’s colonial history and by 1798 it was the country’s third largest export, as well as used in local houses.