This medallion was struck to celebrate the 100th anniversary of fellmongering in Mazamet in 1951.
Fellmongering - In French, ‘delainage” means, literally, ‘de-wooling'. It is the industrial process of separating wool from sheepskins.
In the 19th century, the southern French town of Mazamet became the world centre of délainage and played an important part in the Australian wool industry. At one time Mazamet was reputed to be the 15th richest town in Europe, and it was said that the town’s branch of the Banque Nationale de Paris (French banking firm) was the second largest in France.
At its height, Mazamet had 48 fellmongeries and imported more than 100,000 tonnes of sheepskins a year from the southern hemisphere, mostly from Australia and Argentina. It also supported numerous associated industries such as tanneries, spinning mills and clothing manufacturers. In the 1980s Mazamet’s fellmongering industry fell into decline under pressure from environmental concerns and cheap imports. The town’s last two fellmongeries closed in 2004.
The town continues to have a strong relation to Australia, with street names such as, Rue de Australie, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in recognition of a connection to the two distant lands.
Today, half a century since wool importation largely ended, there remains a link to the past. Elite quality leather and woollen clothing companies such as Hermes and Chanel still source much of their stock in Mazamet.
This medallion was presented to William Haughton and Co. who were one of Australia’s largest wool-buying companies of the first half of the 20th century. Wm Haughton had a major presence in Geelong and its “SKINS WOOL HIDES TALLOW etc.” signs were prominent on railways stations throughout the Western District and beyond. Haughtons had branches in all Australian capital cities, New Zealand, London and Bradford. Its agents in Mazamet were Maison Louis Maffre, an enterprise founded by M. Louis Maffre, mayor of Mazamet from 1912 to 1919.
This medallion was donated to the National Wool Museum by the family of Sir Robert Southey AO CMG, former managing director of Wm Haughton & Co.
Bronze medallion contained within purple case. On one side of the medallion, a mill worker is seen scraping the wool off the treated sheepskin. On the reverse the inception can be read.
Inscriptions & markings
Wording: CRESCAM ET LUCEBO // CENTENAIRE / DU DELAINAGE / MAZAMET // 1851-1951. Smooth edge stamped with a cornucopia and the inscription BRONZE