Architectural element, ashlar block , glazed terracotta, used in the Commonwealth Hotel, Sydney, made by Wunderlich Ltd, Parramatta, New South Wales, circa 1930.
This architectural element was made by Wunderlich Limited, one of Australia's most significant building companies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Wunderlich products found their way into many aspects of Australian life from grand facades like the Government Bank in Martin Place, to domestic ceilings, to garbage bins, and engine cowlings produced as part of the war effort. These pre fabricated stamped ceiling and wall panels went on to become one of the Company's most iconic products, and in 2008 some of the oldest buildings in Sydney still brandish Wunderlich stamped metal ceilings.
Wunderlich began registering patents for their designs in the 1900s, and in 1906 the trademark 'Wunderlich, Sydney' was registered  . In 1911 they registered three more trademarks being; Wunderlich , Wunderlich Manufacturers,  and Wunderlich Ceilings.In 1969 the Wunderlich Company was taken over by Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited (CSR) and de-listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1970.
The artistic development of Wunderlich's products is a barometer of stylistic change. Over the lifespan of the Company, they produced many styles including; ornate neo classical Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Gothic designs, often being ahead of movements and trends. Wunderlich Limited was part of the very fabric of the Australian building industry and their designs help to tell the story of the stylistic and social change in Sydney through much the 19th and 20th century.
The Museum has a number of architectural elements made by Wunderlich in its collection including stamped metal panels, roof tiles, and terracotta pieces such as this one.
Wunderlich Catalogue, July, 1900
Wunderlich Sydney Application no 1627, August 10th, 1906
Wunderlich Ledger, January 1898-May 1900, p.233.
Wunderlich Application no 10733, March 2nd, 1911
Wunderlich Manufacturers Application, no 11217, June 2nd, 1911
Wunderlich Ceilings Application no 11218, June 2nd, 1911.
Assistant Curator, October 2008.
This piece of architectural terracotta was made by Wunderlich limited.
Local manufacture of Wunderlich architectural terracotta commenced at Rosehill in Sydney in 1916.
The Wunderlich Company had foreseen the possibility of the European war and had installed experimental tilery plants in Sydney and Melbourne, at the same time purchasing clay lands in these areas.  By the time the war made importation of terracotta products impossible, Wunderlich Limited was ready to start full scale production of their own branded terracotta tiles.
Architectural terracotta is made from burnt clay. A Wunderlich brochure describes the process; "When the designs for a terracotta façade are received from the architect, a staff of draughtsmen sets to work on the preparation of shop drawings to "shrinkage" scale, which determine the jointing, construction, and position of each specific block of terracotta. Clay models are then prepared for all ornamental features, and plaster moulds for each separate size of block. Into these moulds the prepared clay is pressed until it takes the desired shape, when it is lifted out and set aside to dry. Numerous repetitive pieces can be pressed from the same mould.
When the blocks are dry, the face that will eventually be exposed to the weather receives a coating of glaze to give the colour decided upon; and the ware, ready for firing, is set in the kiln. Subjected to intense heat, the terracotta body becomes almost flint hard, the surface colour develops and the glaze vitrifies. Finally, after careful cooling, the blocks are "drawn" from the kiln, taken to the fitting shop , and there assembled, fitted, and inspected, each piece bearing an identification mark indicating its ultimate position on the building."
Wunderlich Architectural terracotta facades were popular for buildings all over Sydney. Among the most famous jobs Wunderlich undertook using Architectural Terracotta are the Government Savings Bank of N.S.W in Martin Place, Sydney, Temple Court, Collins St, Melbourne, and the Dymock's book arcade, George St Sydney. 
Forty Years of Wunderlich Industry 1887-1927, Wunderlich Ltd, 1927
Trade Brochure, Colour in Wunderlich Products, Wunderlich Ltd, Museum Research Library
Used on the exterior of the Commonwealth Hotel, Sydney.
Wunderlich Limited was one of Australia's most significant building companies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and created elements of many significant Sydney buildings, including the Centennial Hall ceiling in the Sydney Town Hall.
From 1893 Wunderlich was producing stamped metalwork at their factory in Redfern. The first locally produced catalogue appeared in 1895 offering mainly German designs and pattern numbers. From 1895 Wunderlich claimed to be making all its own metal products, and continued to do so for many years from the Redfern site. Their terracotta factory was established in Sydney in 1916.
In 1969 the Wunderlich Company was taken over by Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited (CSR) and de-listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1970. In 1979 CSR sold Wunderlich's Redfern site, with all the original buildings to be demolished to make way for a shopping centre. In November, that same year, CSR gave the Museum $20,000 to rescue the collection of the Wunderlich Factory, before it was lost forever.
Susan Bures and Barry Groom, Wunderlich Project Report, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, 1980-1981