Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, Warrnambool
Hat box, large, deep round shape with a straight section where lid is joined on at the back. Dated early to mid-1900’s. Brown coloured, textured heavy weight card box with folding metal carry handle, three clip closures for lid, metal hinge on back of lid. Purple maker’s label inside lid - DREWS, Leather Goods Specialists, Melbourne. Leather luggage tag has two rectangular cut-outs on front, attached with buckle strap. Underside of lid has two supporting leather straps attached to base. Base has inner cardboard liner around most of circumference. Contained inside are two leather straps with metal buckles. Label remnants, red, attached under base. Hat box was owned by Miss Katherine Robertson.
Also inside is brown paper wrapper with three hand written addresses, in blue nib pen, and two attached Great Britain postage stamps, Queen Elizabeth II (1) Orange stamp, QE II, ½d (2) Green stamp, QE II, ten pence. It is postmarked  55.
This large hat box was owned by Miss Katherine Robertson (now deceased). It was sold by Drews, a leather and travel goods shop in Melbourne, and has been made as good quality, sturdy travel luggage. It has its own leather luggage label buckled to the handle and there are remnants of labels on the base of the hat box, signifying that it has indeed been used as luggage. A hat box such as this one is made to protect, store and transport head wear. Hat boxes became popular in the 19th and early 20th century when hats were a part of the modern fashion.
Inside the hat box is a brown paper wrapper with two Great Britain postage stamps attached. Both have the portrait image of Queen Elizabeth II (1) orange 1/2d (2) green ten pence. These stamps belong to the Wildings series and were issued 1952-1954. The wrapper was sent by J McGregor in Glasgow, Scotland to Katherine Robertson in Sale, Victoria. The postmark stamp shows it was sent in 1955. The paper had once been folded around something rectangular in shape, perhaps a book.
The hat box was recently found by Archie’s daughter, niece of Katherine, when she was looking for something else in the ceiling of her home. The hat box had been there, with the brown paper wrapper inside, for about 30 years, forgotten by the family. There are no family members remaining now to tell the full story.
ABOUT MISS KATHERINE ROBERTSON
The Robertson family emigrated from the Isle of Wight and settled in Woorndoo, Western Victoria, Australia. Katherine Robinson was one of 13 children. The youngest child in the family was a boy named Archibald (Archie) who was born in 1911. His daughter is the donor of the hat box.
Katherine went to school at Woorndoo and later became a trained teacher. People said “She was a school teacher 24 hours a day!” She was insistent on being called Miss Katherine Robinson, and no-one dare call her a shortened name in any way, not Kate, or Katie or even Kathie. She spoke with the authority of a teacher throughout her life, never asking but always giving her requests as orders.
Miss Katherine Robinson remained single all her life. She bought items that were the best quality and workmanship, which gives reason for the strong and well-travelled hat box. She enjoyed going on trips and travelled the world twice. While on her journeys Katherine would knit Fair Isle patterned socks using fine 4 ply wool because she “Didn’t believe in wasting time!”
Katherine’s niece remembers being in Melbourne at Station Pier, seeing her Aunt off on one of her journeys. She recalls the atmosphere and the colourful streamers in the air that celebrated the special occasion.
Drew’s, Leather Goods Specialists, was located at 70 Swanston St, corner of Queen’s Walk, Melbourne, at the time that this hat box was sold by the company. Queen’s Walk was constructed in 1889. It was a lavish ‘L’ shaped arcade that connected Swanston Street to Collins Street and was home to many specialist stores. In the 1950’s Drews address was advertised as Collins Street. In the late 1960’s Queen’s Walk was purchased by the Melbourne City Council and demolished in the early 1970’s, to be replaced by the Melbourne City Square.
This very sturdy and good quality hat box is an example of travel luggage available to and used by the Victorian population of Australia in the early to mid-20th century.
The retailer of this hat box, Drews, operated from premises on the corner of Swanston St and Queen’s Walk in Melbourne where many other specialist shops were located. Queen’s Walk was only in existence for around 70 years, 1889-late 1960, before it was demolished to make way for Melbourne’s City Square.
Inscriptions & Markings
Purple label has printing "70 SWANSTON STREET / Cr. QUEEN'S WALK / DREWS / LEATHER GOODS / SPECIALISTS / MELBOURNE".
Wrapper inside has two hand written addresses
(1J) Mrs. K. F. Robertson / 33 Mcalister Street / Sale / Victoria / Australia”
(2) “from / J Mc Gregor / 15 Napier’s Hall St / Glasgow N W / Scotland”
Postmark “ - -em 55” & “CLAS-“ OR “GLAS-“ [GLASGOW]