Printing blocks (10), 'A handbook of anarchy' by J A Andrews, wood, made by John Arthur Andrews, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1894
This hand-carved and unique woodcut is one three held by the Powerhouse Museum which represent the activities of the Australian Anarchists in the 1890s and as such they reflect an, important but little known, part of of the country's cultural heritage. This set of carved woodblocks were used around 1894 to produce text in publications by John Arthur Andrews. Andrews (1865-1903) was born in Bendigo, Victoria iand sometime around 1886 joined the Melbourne Anarchist Club and became active in the Australian Socialist League. During this time he published works in 'Radical', 'Liberty' and his own pamphlets including 'A handbook of anarchy'.
The 1890s was a period of great social unrest with the country caught firmly in the grip of both a drought and a depression which forced many out of work. In July 1892 the Broken Hill Strike began and police and armed troops were used move non-strike labour into the mines. Waltzing Matilda was penned by Banjo Patterson in the wake of the events on Dagworth station during the shearing strike of 1894 and in July of the same year Andrews published ¬?A Handbook of Anarchy¬?. Almost immediately Andrews and his fellow publishers, Wolfe and Robinson, were jailed, not for sedition, but apparently for not having a printer's imprint correctly set on the book.
In 1895 Andrews was again in jail on charges of sedition relating to another publication he was involved with called 'Revolt'. Again the charges appear to have been hard to pin down as Andrews was freed in July 1895 after which he made his way back to Melbourne where he became involved in the Victorian Labour Federation. He died virtually destitute of tuberculosis in 1903 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Booroondara Cemetery. The limited print runs, the hand-made nature of the wood-cuts and the underground nature of Andrews publications add to the significance of this collection of rare and important objects from Australian political history.
Australian Dictionary of Biography 1891-1939, 69
'John Arthur Andrews', http://www.takver.com/history/raa/raa19.htm
Geoff Barker, May 2010
These woodblocks was carved by John Arthur Andrews (1865-1903) in Melbourne, Australia in 1894.
These woodblocks were presented to the Royal Australian Historical Society by a Mr W Rochaix of Cowra, New South Wales in February 1934.