23rd November 2019

New finds from Carol:

Absolutely fabulous! Three different sized uniform buttons from the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company, backmarked with three differing Australian suppliers; C. Hemsley (Sydney), W. Johns (Brisbane) and Stokes & Sons (Melbourne). See below for information about W. Johns.

House Flag

Came to Brisbane from Sydney in 1842 as an agent for the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, which would be merged into the A.S.N. Co. then finally the A.U.S.N Co.

This shipping company was formed in 1887 from the merger of two other companies, and lasted until 1961. The articles below both came from The Mercury (Hobart) 9th March 1887.

In 1940 one of their ships ran aground near Barwon heads during a storm. A newspaper reported that ” the bursting of an oil pipe in the Orungal fortuitously spread a calming film of oil over the sea and made it possible to bring the lifeboat alongside to pick up the first load of 17 passengers and 23 seamen.” The mind boggles.

W. Johns, Brisbane:

William Johns was born in Cornwall, England in 1867. He had come to Queensland by 1894, and by 1905 was living in Edwards Street, Brisbane. In 1906 “W. Johns & Co”, drapers, bought the business of Sidle & Co, and were located at the corner of Edwards and Queen Street. By now they described themselves as an Emporium. In 1908 they had expanded to a “department store” although it was in reality a large drapery. There were a men’s, fancy goods, toys, milinery and ready-made costume “departments”. In 1913 the company purchased the business of Edward Shields Ltd, and were calling the store “the Crystal Emporium” In 1923 they opened a second store at Fiveways, Woolloongabba, called “The Fiveways Supply Store”. The Queens Street store was being advertised for sale as an ongoing concern mid 1929, with the Fiveways store later the same year. Perhaps William was retiring? He died in 1942.

The Telegraph, 27th June 1928.

The Telegraph, 27th August, 1929.




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