Box containing 19 rolls of silk and faille ribbon in original wrappings with paper interleaving...(AF).FRom Wong Ah Sat store in Crookwell NSW
General stores were a vital part of the regional communities that developed throughout Australia in the 19th century. They were the link between their communities and the metropolis and to overseas markets. Chinese immigrants were a dominant part of this retail trade across the country. By 1901 there were 800 people of Chinese descent working in NSW shops - a statistic that suggests the existence of several hundred 'Chinese stores' in the state.
Wong Sat and Amelia Wong were married in 1864. Seven of their 10 children were born there. Both Amelia and Sat had migrated to Australia in the 1850s. Amelia arrived with her family from Manchester where they had a drapery business. Like many other Chinese men Sat made his way to Australia alone and in search of gold. He too made his way to the Bathurst area. Again like many other Chinese migrants, Sat moved from mining into trade - possibly as a butcher, shopkeeper or carrier.
Sat and Amelia were selling supplies to Chinese and European customers in the gold mining town of Tuena from 1864 to 1875. In that year the family moved south to the Fullerton/Bolong area near Crookwell where they continued to trade and farm on a rented property. In 1879 Sat was naturalised which allowed him to purchase land. Several hundred acres were bought in 1880 and a small wooden store was built on the property. Built on a sheep farm well away from link roads, the rudimentary wooden building was a 'convenience store' supplying local families on the properties and occasional travellers with a vast array of goods from foodstuffs to clothing, school needs to farm supplies. Where city and large country department stores were utilising sophisticated display techniques the Wong store had a functional set of shelves. Most goods were stored in boxes or cupboards to be brought out upon request. Like other general stores, the Wongs' business also served an important economic function as a provider of credit for families waiting for returns on their wool clip or harvest. The Wongs became highly respected members of the local community. The store traded until Sat's death in 1916
Part of a major donation by Anne Schofield in 1984. Objects A10805 - A10823 are part of a collection originally made by Peter Doyle.
Following the closure of the Wong store in 1916 the stock remained largely undisturbed until the growth in interest in 'Australiana' in the 1970s. At that time restaurateur Peter Doyle bought a considerable amount of stock from Robert Wong who then owned the property. Doyle had known the family since being evacuated to the Crookwell area as a young boy from Watson's Bay in 1942. At that time he visited the farm, was taken into the store and given a 'new' pair of shoes. Over the next 30 years he continued to visit the area and became friends with the Wong family. Having developed an interest in 'Australiana' in the 1970s he bought some of the material still left in the shop.
Doyle passed much of his collection on to Sydney dealer and collector Anne Schofield. She, in turn, donated this to the Museum in 1984. Twelve years later the Museum purchased more shop stock, fittings, account books and family photographs from the family. (97/92/1 to 97/92/15)