An invitation, mounted on card to an evening reception at the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, on 9 May 1901, to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall as part of the celebrations of the opening of the first Federal Parliament. A figure of Britannia, in red dress and mailed vest holding a shield like the Union Jack, is on the left of the invitation; she reaches out her hand towards a younger female figure, representing Australia, who is dressed in blue and holds a shield which is white with a blue cross decorated with stars. The writing is on a scroll in the centre of the certificate, and there is a border of vines and vine leaves. The royal crest is at the base of the certificate.
The correspondent of the Argus on 10 May 1901 wrote:
"The Parliament of the Commonwealth was opened yesterday by the Duke, of Cornwall and York, under a Commission signed by Queen Victoria and subsequently endorsed by King Edward VII. The ceremony was marked by the splendour and solemn impressiveness which befitted its historic importance. An immense assemblage of spectators, drawn mainly, of course, from this state, but in part also from each of the other federated states, and including representatives of other portions of the British Empire and of foreign powers, thronged the spacious, stately, and joyously decorated edifice. The picture was magnificent. It must have printed itself indelibly on the sensitive minds of the thousands of Australians who were privileged to behold it. We may assume that artists will reproduce it in worthy and imperishable forms, and that from generation to generation it will be familiar in the households of the Commonwealth. Our children's children, we may gladly say to-day, will not be ashamed of the function which inaugurated the self-governing rights of the southern British Nation. Nothing was omitted which could add to the grandeur and significance of the occasion. In a broad sense the proceedings were perfectly intelligible to the vast and sympathetic gathering, though the natural limits of a single human voice had to be accepted. The King's son, with his consort and the Governor-General and Lady Hopetoun by his side, and supported by the Governors of the states and other eminent personages, fulfilled his doubly-attested Commission with a simple dignity and a modest manliness altogether admirable. The ceremony was a brilliant spectacle, and, in its sentiment and suggestiveness, an inspiration to a loyal and patriotic people."
The document design has artistic and aesthetic merit. While it is not rare, it is representative of the kinds of formal designs used for the Australian Commonwealth celebrations at the time of Federation, and is in excellent condition. Such items as this invitation have local, state and national historic significance as mementoes of a key moment in Australia's history. Locally, the invitation is part of a group of Federation-related items owned by Mrs Grace Tabulo, and displayed at her home - Fairyland - at 57 Malmsbury Street, Kew
Inscriptions & Markings
Front, printed. gold ink:
"His Majesty's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth of Australia request the honour of the presence of / ****l (handwritten) / In the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, on Thursday, 9th May, 1901, to witness / the Opening of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. / Edmund Barton / Prime Minister." Front, bottom left, printed: "The Young Queen / Her hand was still on her sword hilt - the spur was still on her heel ... (and further text) KIPLING'S COMMONWEALTH ODE."
Mrs G. Tabulo, 57 Malmsbury Street