the art of the illuminated address

Illuminated addresses were once important components of a celebration of achievement.  They were generally very ornate and often included elements of the person’s history in the medley of images.

National Museum of Australia

Today the art of the illuminated address has all but vanished. In the mid to late 19th, and early 20th century, they were a popular way to thank prominent individuals for their contribution to organisations.

The artistry that went in to these addresses ranged from the fairly amateur production to highly sophisticated illustration techniques and calligraphy. They were, at their best, an art form in themselves.

Presentations often made the local news.

Australian Town and Country Journal – 1 April 1871

illuminated address Morpeth

Sydney Morning Herald – 18 August 1894

Balmain Rowing Club

They also provided opportunities for sycophancy.

South Australian Advertiser – 18 March 1874

Fairfax illuminated address

Here are some examples.

State Library of Victoria (out of copyright) – Goldsworthy and Davey.

download (7)

State Library of Victoria (out of copyright) – Sands & McDougall Limited

download (8)

John Oxley Library – State Library of Queensland (out of copyright)

Part of an illuminated address to the Chief Commissioner of Stamps on his resignation 1902



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