Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Special Collections Fossickings 43: The Marjorie Green writing desk


 Miss Marjorie Green, photo from the Marjorie Green Archive.
The Marjorie Green writing desk in the Special Collections reading room, Townsville.
The photograph above shows a wooden writing desk donated to the Delamothe Collection thirty years ago by its owner, Miss Marjorie Green.  Marjorie, then aged 88, was born in Charters Towers but had lived most of her life in the historic house, Kardinia, on Stanton Hill. This heritage- listed building is famous for hosting the Japanese consulate from 1886-1908, before Marjorie’s father, David Green, took over the reins of the “Townsville Daily Bulletin” and made Kardinia their family home. Marjorie, the middle one of three daughters, was still living there in 1984 but her gift of the desk in August that year seems to have been part of preparations for her move to the Masonic Village. The house was sold in November.

Kardinia (historic house on right), Marjorie Green Album, NQ Photographic Collection, ID 15506.

Detail of the left side panel of Marjorie Green writing desk.
Detail of the front of the Marjorie Green writing desk.
Details recorded at the time of the donation indicate that the desk was carved, with some skill, by 16-year-old Marjorie while home on holiday from Melbourne’s Presbyterian Ladies College. The front of the desk features the College crest and original German motto “Ohne hast ohne rast” (Without haste, without rest). The desk contains several related items including a glass and silver pen-holder and a silver-backed ink-blotter, engraved with Marjorie’s initials.
Silver- backed ink-blotter featuring the engraved intials "MG".
 Showing splatters of ink and other signs of wear and tear, the desk was clearly well-used. One can easily imagine Marjorie seated at it while corresponding with friends, writing recipes or recording the details of an active and well-travelled young woman. Other items in the Marjorie Green archive give glimpses of a life involved in church and community while photograph albums, passports, postcards and travel brochures document at least one world trip made by the whole family. It must have been the trip of a lifetime, taking in Java, Singapore, Ceylon, Suez  and via “the Med” to Italy, France and Britain before crossing the Atlantic to the US and Canada. A later trip took in Japan and China.
Items from the Marjorie Green Archive held in the JCU Library Special Collections.
In the domestic sphere a notebook is packed with recipes, featuring many cakes and desserts – although roast duck stuffed “with small white seedless grapes tossed in melted butter and dry white wine” sounds particularly appetising. Why not try this easy to make slice, straight from Marjorie’s recipe book?
Caramel date and walnut slice:
4 oz butter, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 egg, ½ teasp vanilla, 1 cup SR flour, pinch salt, ¾ cup of dates, ¾ cup walnuts.
Warm butter and brown sugar, do not boil
Remove and cool
Beat in beaten egg, then flour, salt, dates and walnuts.
Put in lamington tin and cook in moderate oven for 20-25 minutes

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