Look closely at some old furniture in your home or workplace and you may see the words ‘European labour only’ stamped on it. You may think you have a finely crafted piece of furniture made in Germany or France. But don’t rush to the antique dealer too quickly. These stamps were common on furniture made in Australia before the 1960s.

The ‘European labour only’ stamp was a legal requirement in Victoria, and in most other states. In Victoria it was set out in the Factories and Shops Act of 1896. It was later incorporated in different Acts over time under various names, finally remaining in 1958 as part of the Labour and Industry Act. The purpose of the legislation was to distinguish between furniture made in Victoria by Chinese workers and that made by Europeans, meaning Australians of European origin.

The Australasian, 13 March, 1897, p. 4, advertisement
indicating ‘European Labour’ made furniture.

In the 1880s there was great concern about what was known as ‘sweated labour’ or ‘sweating’. This was the use of labour in highly exploitative conditions. It usually meant workers subjected to very long hours, unsafe conditions, low pay and insecure employment. The Chinese community were often accused of making use of ‘sweated labour’, especially in the manufacture of furniture.

Unions accused the Chinese workers of unfairly undermining the conditions of European workers, while employers complained about unfair competition from Chinese owned businesses. Others said that the Chinese made furniture was of inferior quality.  These views were contested by some at the time and later by historians such as Eric Rolls. Despite a lot of anti-Chinese sentiment it appears that many businesses were happy to sell Chinese made furniture, indeed some contemporary commentators felt it was ‘absolutely impossible to commence the retail furniture business without selling Chinese made furniture’.

Illustration from the Australasian Sketcher,
Chinese Furniture Makers 1880, A/S24/04/80/69

After a series of Parliamentary inquiries such as the inquiry into the Factories and Shops Act 1890 and ongoing agitation from unions, employers and lobby groups, stamping legislation was introduced in 1896. Furniture had to be stamped as ‘Chinese labour’ or ‘European labour only’, or ‘European and other labour’ if a combination of labour sources was used. The stamping legislation, and other measures such as greater regulation of working hours did harm the viability of the Chinese furniture makers. Over a period of time their presence in the industry declined and eventually, virtually disappeared.

The problem of sweated labour was very real and attempts to reduce it were well-intentioned. But the Chinese and other non European communities did suffer from very prejudicial attitudes in this era. When Chinese workers were on strike against their employers for improved conditions in the 1880s and early 1890s they sought the support of the union movement but were rejected. There were even threats of using European labour against them as strike breakers.

Later attempts by the Chinese to be involved in the industry reform and regulation were also rejected. The rejection of the Chinese workers pleas for solidarity by their Australian or European fellow workers was a missed opportunity. What could have become a bridge between different communities remained a wall that divided them. A legacy of prejudice and misconceptions remained for generations. In Victoria the stamping regulations were in force until 1963. The last remaining references to European and Chinese Labour stamping was removed from the Labour and Industry Act 1958, by various new provisions in the Labour and Industry Amendment Act of 1963.

Wardrobe with European Labour Only stamp.
Image supplied courtesy of Karen Cheng’s Fashion and Life blog,
Racist Furniture post,  18 April, 2011.

Further reading

Beaton, Lynn,  Part of the furniture: Moments in the history of the Federated Furniture Trades Society of Victoria,  Melbourne University Press: Carlton, Vic., 2007, pages 39-48.

Rolls, Eric, Citizens : Flowers and the wide sea: continuing the epic story of China’s centuries-old relationship with Australia, University of Queensland Press: St. Lucia, Qld., 1996, pages  111-116.

This article has 91 comments

  1. How funny, I wrote an essay on this topic that was published just a couple of days before this article:


    It’s good to see growing awareness of and interest in this kind of history!

  2. Thanks for the comment and link to article Lia.

    Tim Hogan, State Library of Victoria.

  3. I have 5 off these wood dining chairs .they were given to me to cut up for making toys out off.
    Should I cut them up or keep them.

    • Keep them i think.You can always make toys from something else.I personally value items made from this era.A lot of time and effort often went into them and if they have survived this long…well seems a shame to destroy them now.I just bought a cabinet yesterday which is around one hundred yrs old stamped Chinese Labour Melbourne.It was the finding of this stamp which led me eventually to this page and your comment. It is one of the loveliest of pieces of furniture i have ever seen and i will treasure it as i do all my other wonderful finds. ☺
      P.S i see your comment is rather old.Hope its not too late for those chairs !!

      • William R McCormack

        My piece in top draw divided by 3
        Manufactured sold by European labour no 25
        I belive this piece 3 draw unit on turned legs with vertical molding on legs with pastors to be a dinning room dresser
        Any help would be appreciated..cheers

        • Dose anyone know this maker or anything about it rostramo s.a.

          • There was a European Furniture maker called Rostramo – widely imported into Australia from Romania (I think). Good quality wooden furniture produced, but then the political situation changed in the country and exports here ceased.

  4. I have a chest of drawers marked “Chinese Labour Lee Cheong 305 Exhibition St Melbourne”. I cannot find any info about Lee Cheong but assume that the chest of drawers may have been made between 1896 -1920’s. Can anyone provide more info about Lee Cheong’s furniture factory? Lee

    • Hi Lee, Thank you for your interest in our blog. We will look into it for you and send an answer to your email address.

      • Hi Sarah, I also have a furniture stamp that has European Labor Only that I’m trying to investigate
        It has
        Johnston Bros
        Furniture Makers
        Leichester Str Fitzroy (hard to read so guessing here)
        European Labor Only
        Can you assist at all??
        D. Algie

        • Blair Gatehouse

          Hi Diana,
          A librarian will have a look at your enquiry and be in touch shortly. Thanks for your interest in this blog.

  5. Hi, was hoping that someone may be able to give me some information regarding a Hall Stand/Cupboard Ive purchased. The manufacturer stamp is an inverted triangle “Tack Loong 7 Hayward Lane Melbourne, Maker Chinese Labour” Any info would be appreciated.

    • Hello Zana, We will look into this for you and reply to your email address. Thank you for your interest.

  6. michele summerton

    There’s a simple, white painted wooden kitchen chair at Cape Otway Lightstation. It was made by Foy & Gibson for the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service and probably dates between 1915 and the 1920s.

    The manufacturer’s stamp under the seat reads ‘European Labor Only. Made by Foy & Gibson Pty Ltd, Smith Street, Collingwood’.

    • If you look at the University Of Melbourne Foy & Gibson Catalogues you may find a picture of the chair. google it

  7. Helen, Am in the process of taking off that dreaded cream on top of green thick paint used on that lovely cream pine they made the lead-lighted kitchen cupboards out of , and found a stamp in the bottom of the drawer A3 EUROPEAN LABOUR ONLY. My grand daughter is one lucky girl having salvaged the init from a friend taking it to the dump Thanks all the info.

  8. Richard stafford

    Hi, I have some furniture which is stamped with European Labour A12
    I presume the A12 may stand for the manufacturer as there is no other info.
    Could you please assist, as i am trying to see how old the table and chairs may be.

    • Hi Richard
      Thanks for your comment. We didn’t come across any information about manufacturer’s names or marks when writing this piece. So it may be a fairly obscure piece of information. We will have a look though and see if we can uncover anything.

  9. Charlie Stonehouse

    Hi I have some furniture dressing table & bedside cabinet, inside a draw is stamped H. Lum & Co Lit Bourke St Melbourne all European labour also has a four digit phone number. I assume that it is a Chinese company, it was purchased from a person called Tok, the previous Co owner. Have you any further info on H. Lum & Co?
    Regards Charlie

    • Hi Charlie, thanks for your comment. H. Lum & Co. operated a furniture store which was known as the Melba Furnishing Company. It is mentioned a couple of times in Melbourne newspapers in 1923 and in 1930, when there were fires at the premises, or near by. So your piece of furniture may date from around that time. You can search for more newspaper references online on Trove, a website containing digitised Australian newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries, http://trove.nla.gov.au. There are other sources you can check like old postal and commercial directories, known commonly as the Sands and Macdougall’s Directories. These are a bit like the Yellow Pages of today. Unfortunately they are not freely available online. They are held by all State Libraries, and in some of the larger public libraries around Melbourne, and other cities and towns. You should be able to track the existence of the Melba Furnishing Company, owned by H Lum by looking at these.

  10. Thank you so much for this information. I have been scouring the net trying to work out what the stamp on a small half round hall table I have recently purchased. The stamp reads:

    European Labour Only
    Design No: 17
    Date: 16/7/38 (51) – the 38 is part of the original stamp. It has been crossed through and ’51’ written. EG: the ink date stamp is …./…./38 – then in different colour ink it is written 16/7/51
    Maker: JP

    Can you please advise me where to start in being able to find more information on this piece?

    • Hi Trudi, thank you for your comments. Unfortunately the maker’s name, ‘JP’, is not much too go on, and we are not aware of a way to search for information purely by the serial number or design number. I would suggest trying the following sources, old postal and commercial directories, known commonly in Victoria as the Sands and Macdougall’s Directories, digitised newspapers on Trove, http://trove.nla.gov.au, and one of the standard reference works on Australian furniture, “Australian furniture : Pictorial history and dictionary, 1788 – 1938” by Kevin Fahy, Andrew Simpson, published in 1998. All of these sources are available at larger research libraries in all states of Australia.

    • Hello, I have a round turned leg, piecrust edged nesting table set (1x 26.5” large with 4 quadrant tables under) also stamped European Labour Only 409 plus handwritten details:
      A409 (3)
      Design No 30
      Date 18/5/53
      Maker KL
      The item came from a lady whose family lived in Queensland (Brisbane ?) so thought it was Queensland maple.
      I assumed KL referred to the initials of an individual within an undisclosed furniture making company.

  11. Hullo I have recently purchased a pedestal/plinth which may have held a pot plant or small sculpture. It is oak and I estimate 1920-1930 and in very good order. The stamped underside reads: J G Guest Furniture Manufacturers Richmond (I presume Richmond Victoria) and also has the European Labour Only stamp.
    I have other old pieces from that period and was very interested to read the information and comments regarding “European Labour Only”.
    I am hoping you may know something more about the ” JG Guest” company as I have been unable to locate anything useful. Regards Isabel

    • Hello Isabel

      Thanks you for your inquiry. According to Australian furniture : Pictorial history and dictionary, 1788 – 1938, by Kevin Fahy, and Andrew Simpson, published in 1998, J.G Guest & Co. were in business in Melbourne from as early as 1920 until at least 1938. One of their catalogues has been digitised by the State Library of Victoria. You can access it from this link, http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/154404

      The full citation is:

      Pounds saved on finest furniture direct from the factory : out of the high rent area.
      J.G. Guest and Co. [1929].

      The founder of the company, Mr. J.G. Guest, died in 1954. There was an short obituary article in the Melbourne Age newspaper which you can read from this link,
      OBITUARY Mr. J. G. Guest (1954, March 18). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20570501

      Trove, a website containing digitised Australian newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries, http://trove.nla.gov.au can be used to find further mentions of J.G Guest & Company which appears to have existed into the 1940s and 1950s.

      Hope this is useful

  12. Hi
    We have just obtained a lovely old 1920’s-30’s Art Deco Buffet/ drinks cabinet.. Unfortunately I cannot find any info on the manufacturer, I am wanting to restore it to it’s original beauty but am unable to find any pictures to match stain etc, hoping you may be able to shed some light?
    Stamp reads J.S. Cook & C . PTY.LTD
    Furniture Manufacturers
    European Labor Only
    Many thanks

  13. Hello,
    I have a beautiful old sideboard made by “Standis Furniture” stamped “European labour only”.
    Its also has a sellers stamp from “Clauscen &Co furniture arcade, 194 bourke street Melbourne”
    I cant find any information about it except Standis started production from 1912.
    Is there some clues on how I can find its age?

    • Allan I have just been given an old buffet marked Standis Furniture, it has a curved top backboard, three drawers in the middle with a glass inset door either side, cabriole legs.
      Have you found any info on your piece.
      Thanks. email [email protected]

      • Hi Rebs I might be able to help you. If the Standis piece is from the same company I think it is – and I’m pretty sure – I just texted one of the sons of the owner about an hour ago. He lives not that far from me in north east Victoria. His father owned the Standis furniture company which had a factory in Lennox street – my guess it was Richmond – I texted him to obtain the address. I know that when the company was sold possibly in the late 60’s – early 70’s – the factory became vacant for some time apparently. He said he visited the site perhaps 40 years ago and was quite upset at the way it looked. I remember him saying that they had a very experienced woodcarver there who was ‘easily disturbed’ by any distraction and I think he said the fellow would walk away if this happened. After I discovered the details of the brand from him some years ago, I remembered that my parents had a heavy wardrobe with possibly a darkish veneer of blackwood on it. Inside it had a black and red label that said ‘Standish’ in a curved format. Hoping to hear more from him tomorrow as I want to try to find the location of the factory but it would be long gone now… Hope this helps. Ian.

  14. I am about to restore a lovely round side table I bought at a clearance auction and underneath is an engraved stamp A3 EUROPEAN LABOUR ONLY. I delved into the meaning and seems it was a stamp depicting that it was made by white European Australians as opposed to Chinese Australian labour who apparently underpaid their workers.Parliament it seemed passed a law to pay the Europeans a fair wage but the Chinese were not included in this law and had to set up their own union in order to stop the sweat shops in the Chinese community.So it seems the stamp was all about fair pay for the workers around the late 1800’s up to 1958

  15. Hi Tim
    I have found stamped on my grandmother’s squatters chair “A 9 European labour only”
    This chair has been in the family since my great grandparents. Having read the story of why this is stamped on the chair would like to know anyway of finding out what A 9 may mean and year may have been made approximately?
    Thanks for your help vicki

    • Hi Vicki,

      We have been asked about this A9 code previously. See the reply I made to Trudi above on 3 January 2017 where she asked the same question. Unfortunately we were unable to find out what the A9, or other similar codes might have meant. Perhaps someone in the furniture trade might know?

      The stamps were used over many decades as the Blog piece indicates from the 1890s to the 1960s, so the furniture could date from anywhere in that time. An antique furniture dealer could possibly make a more accurate estimate of the date.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • Hi Tim
      Thanks so much for your quick reponce and info. I shall keep looking for answers and if find any shall let you know. Thanks vicki

      1890s or very early 100. If only we thought of asking them whilst we had the chance Hey !! Thanks vicki

  16. Hi, hoping you can help I have what I think is a hall cupboard with L Coulton Northcote European Labour Only, is there any way to find out how old it is as I was going to give it away for free until I saw this written on it. Any info would be appreciated.

    • Hi Leonie,
      I will take your question as deferred enquriy and a librarian will get back to you.
      Thanks for reading,

  17. Hi,my son and daughter in law have a beatutifull ART DECO gentlemans cupboard with the stamp European Labour.

  18. Teresa Tchernegovski

    Hi, I have a delightful dresser that I would love to know a bit more about. Sadly some of the stamp either didn’t get pressed down hard enough or was worn off. It’s from NSW so even if you could put me on to someone there I would be great full. I do not believe the missing part of the stamp says either European or Chinese Labor so feel it maybe a later Déco inspired piece.
    Kind regards Teresa.
    Dept Labor & Industry
    071260 is on a separate stamp.

  19. I’m currently restoring a large kitchen dresser made by the Melbourne Chair Company in 1919 – stamp underneath a drawer had the date and The ‘European Labour only.’ Have wondered about this terminology as I have it on other pieces I have restored.
    Gotta love the local tip shop!

  20. Thanks for this article.

    I have often seen these stamps, and I had presumed that they were originated for purely racist reasons.

    It’s interesting to learn that there was also an economic / labour struggle side to these stamps.

    If I’d thought about it more, I would’ve tweaked to this. Brexit would not have happened if the UK had had better employment laws.

  21. Hi,
    I am trying to date/ find out more information on a wooden wardrobe and a matching dressing table stamped Scotchmer Furniture Factory. They both also have stickers stating that the manufacturer complies with the requirements of ‘Australian Furniture Standard no. S.1.’. I was hoping to find an archive of old factories to find out more information or any other resources.
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Liora,

      Thanks for your comment. You asked how to date a wardrobe and table stamped ‘Scotchmer Furniture Factory’. There may be two ways to do this:

      1) Figure out when the factory operated (this could help narrow down a date of construction)
      2) Figure out how long Australian Furniture Standard no. S.1 (marked on the furniture) was in operation.

      To do 1), check Trove, a website containing digitised Australian newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries, http://trove.nla.gov.au. The newspapers may include ads or other mentions of the company. Most newspapers on this website date before 1955.

      Also, check old postal and commercial directories, known commonly as the Sands and Macdougall’s Directories. These are a bit like the Yellow Pages of today. You can now access one in five years of the directories from 1860-1974, digitised by State Library Victoria, at https://www.slv.vic.gov.au/search-discover/popular-digitised-collections
      You can also access all the directories for 1865-1880, digitised by the University of Melbourne, at https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/melbourne-history/exhibits/show/melbournedirectories/browsemelbournedirectories Microfiche copies of the directories are also held by all State Libraries, and in some of the larger public libraries around Melbourne, and other cities and towns. You should be able to track the existence of the Melba Furnishing Company by looking at these directories.

      It would also be worth checking one of the standard reference works on Australian furniture, “Australian furniture: pictorial history and dictionary, 1788 – 1938” by Kevin Fahy, Andrew Simpson, published in 1998. It is available at larger research libraries in all states of Australia.

      For 2), I have looked at the’ List of publications and subject index of Australian standards / Standards Association of Australia’ (1967) and it lists S1-1965 Household Furniture (Minimum Requirements for Materials, Construction, Workmanship and Finish). I suspected this standard may have been in operation in previous years, and amended in 1965, so I checked Trove newspapers. The following article shows this standard existed as far back as 1947: AUSTRALIAN STANDARD FOR HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. (1947, January 29). Construction (Sydney), p. 3, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222875726 And this article suggests the standard was first issued in 1946: STANDARD FOR FURNITURE (1954, May 25). The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 13, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18441110

      I hope this information is useful – good luck with your research

    • Hi, I have a small retro but very modern looking glass top hall table with honey coloured wood. Belonged to my in-laws and would have been new in the early 60’s.
      has 4439 European Labour Only stamped underneath. Love to know more about its origin.

      • Thanks for your enquiry Diana.
        I will pass it onto our Ask A Libraian service and a staff member will get back to you.

    • Liora

      I have a bedroom suite from 1964 in the queen Anne style from Scotchmere Fine Furniture.

      I have been unable to find out about this company.

      Have you had any luck?

      Kind regards

      • Hi Damien, we will refer your question to one of information services librarians. They will get back in touch with you. Kind regards. Tim

  22. I came across the site while trying to decipher a stamp on the inside of a draw belonging to a large bedside cabinet. The stamp is smudged, but the last word is clearly “Ward” on the top line, the next line seems to say “Furniture Manufacturer”, then below a blurred address ending in “Melbourne’, and underneath is “European Labour Only”. The word in front of “Ward” may start with “W”, and I have imagined that it might be “William”, but it’s really too smudged to be sure of anything. My Internet searching has gone nowhere.

    I am aware of Fred Ward, but most of the furniture I see is mid-century or post-war. This item looks to be early 1930s to me, or maybe 1920s (?). It’s made of Queensland Maple and has Queen Anne legs, a drawer on top and a cupboard below. Sides are maple-faced ply as is the centre of the cupboard door. The piece is bow-fronted, with a curved drawer. The timber is the thickest I’ve seen on a drawer. Very unusual.

    I’m a Queenslander and mainly restore Brisbane-made furniture, so I’m a bit at a loss here. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

    BTW, I’ve never seen an item marked “Chinese labour”. Hopefully I’ll find one in the future.

    • Thanks for your comment Michael.

      I found references on Trove to a furniture manufacture, William Ward, who died in 1932. He had a business in the city.
      The Final Call (1932, August 20). Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164468563

      SAFEBLOWERS CAUSE FIRE (1934, March 17). Record (Emerald Hill, Vic. : 1881 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164463391

      UNSTAMPED FURNITURE. (1913, October 8). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article241534843


      • Wow! Thanks so much Tim. That must be it. So it looks like my reading of “William” was correct. The terminus ante quem of 1932 makes sense to me. I reckon my item is 1920s or very early 1930s. Actually starting to think more later 1920s.

  23. No worries Michael, glad that helped.


  24. I have a dressing table (bredroom drawers with mirror). It says K. Elliot Gardiner . European labour only. Have never been able to find out anything. It has been in the family for many years, cheers

  25. Hi I’ve just acquired a kitchen cabinet (in need of some tlc) with the stamp

    D.Drain Furniture Manufacturer 121 Lygon Street, East Brunswick European Labour Only.

    Interested in the history so any info will be gratefully received.

  26. I have an ebony pedestal which is stamped –

    Furniture Manufactorer
    W. Wilson & Co
    ? Lord Street Richmond
    European Labour Only

    I would appreciate more information if available. Thank you.

    • Hi Marlene,

      A librarian will have a look at your enquiry and be in touch shortly,

      Thanks for reading

      • Hi there,
        I recently found a gorgeous Queen Anne type dresser on the side of the road. I sanded it back and found a label saying “Manufactured by H Lum & Co. 136-138 Lit. Bourke street Melbourne.
        Do you have any idea of when this company stopped making furniture? I’d really like to know how old it is. Thank you!

  27. Hi I have a glass front and side display cabinet with 2 drawers at the bottom that I’m trying to find out more about. It has a stamp inside one of the drawers.
    52 Mary St PRESTON VIC
    European Labor only
    Reg no. NSW Shop & Factories Act 1722

    • Thanks for your enquiry Belinda.
      I will pass it onto our Ask A Libraian service and a staff member will get back to you.

      • Hello,
        We have an old family piece which is a small sideboard with mirror. It has a triangular stamp with LOUEY MAY
        LONSDALE ST MELBOURNE with CHINESE LABOUR in the middle. It seems well made but crudely carved. Any info would be great as hubby was thinking of adding to our bonfire. Would it be worth restoring? Cheers.

        • Hi Lia,
          Thanks for your enquiry.
          You can search for more newspaper references online on Trove, a website containing digitised Australian newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries, http://trove.nla.gov.au. There are other sources you can check like old postal and commercial directories, known commonly as the Sands and Macdougall’s Directories. These are a bit like the Yellow Pages of today. Unfortunately they are not freely available online. They are held by all State Libraries, and in some of the larger public libraries around Melbourne, and other cities and towns. You should be able to track the existence of the Louey May by looking at these.

  28. Hi there
    I purchased a lovely lead light cupboard from a third owner who says the piece is from 1890s.
    The stamp is very blurry but I can only read European labour only.
    Any chance you could share your email address so I can send you a pic of the stamp? Maybe you could decipher the wording?

  29. Hi just looking for information about a dining room table and chairs the chairs are green vinyl got a stamp on it European labour only and number A144 salmon and craft product ..Hope someone can help me out..

  30. Hi Tim,
    Long shot…but any chance you know the origins of Manufacturer / Shop with ‘A29’ markings?

    Many thanks

    • Dear Peter,

      Thank you for your enquiry concerning manufacturer markings.

      Unfortunately, we are not aware of a way to search for information purely by the serial or design numbers of furniture.

      If there are any other details or names that accompany the ‘A29’ marking, then you could try searching the digitised newspapers on Trove.

      Another useful resource is the reference work “Australian furniture : Pictorial history and dictionary, 1788 – 1938” by Kevin Fahy, Andrew Simpson, published in 1998. However, while the Library is closed our copy of this work is not accessible.

      If you are able to identify the manufacturer through other means and they are Victorian, then the Library has a number of resources that can assist in tracing the history of this business, such as the Sands and Mcdougall directories. You can also access all the directories for 1865-1880, digitised by the University of Melbourne.

      I hope this information is of assistance.



    D Drain stands for David Drain he was my father born in 1896 died in 1958 .I remember going to the factory in East Brunswick with him one day every school holidays.

  32. Delphia Barnes

    I am trying to research a piece of furniture marked Johnstone & Cutting (although I’m unsure if the Cutting is correct as it’s a little blurred.) Underneath it says Furniture Manufacturers. 14 Patrick St, Melb. European Labour. Would you have any idea how old this is please. I can’t find the company or even the street! Thank you.

    Hi Delphia, thank you for your comment. A Librarian will get in touch with you.

    • Hi Delphia,

      I also have a Wardrobe from Johnstone & Cutting(? Worn on my stamp as well)
      Did you ever find out more information about this manufacturer.



  33. Hi I have just purchased a writing desk with the stamp on it saying “ James Carter & son manufacture south Melbourne European labour” I was wondering if I could get some information about the makers of this wonderful peice

    • Hello Stacey
      Thank you for your question. There were some small advertisements placed by James Carter and Son in Melbourne newspapers between 1947 and 1953, and also one from 1890. But they were mostly job ads seeking staff. So they don’t tell you much about the company. We found these on Trove, https://trove.nla.gov.au/ We have sent you an email about this with additional detail, and have included details about some other places you can search such as commercial and postal directories.

  34. We are looking at selling a desk acquired by my husband’s family in the 1960’s when Mobil were selling used furniture from their office in Melbourne. The stamp is quite faded but I can make out
    XXX, ADAMS & CO.
    Furniture Manufacturers
    XXXXXXXXXX Street, North
    Melbourne (?)

    • Hello Carolyn, thanks for the comments. Library staff are not able to provide valuations of furniture, we don’t have that expertise! You could try contacting some antique dealers. You can find some from this website, antiquesplus.com.au see the tab ‘Dealer Directory’ on their home page. We have also emailed you with this information.

  35. I think it actually says
    GEO. ADAMS & CO.
    Furniture Manufacturers

  36. Hi I have a kitchen Dresser, with an ink stamp on back, it says Cherry Brook, I was told it was a heritage Dresser, can anyone help me, ink stamp in black like a circle of writing thanks

    • Hello Kim

      You could contact some antiques dealers who specialise in furniture. You can find dealers at the following website: antiquesplus.com.au see the tab ‘Dealer Directory’ on their home page.

      Good luck.

      State Library Victoria

  37. Curious about 3 tiered side table stamped ‘George Burgess’ Cabinet maker. 140 Holden St. N. Fitzroy. Victoria Australia. Stamped European Labour.

  38. Hi Tim,
    Just wondering if you have any comments for my post above dated December 5th 2020. I am wondering if the desk has any value at all.

  39. Have a side board mark European Labour Only A12. McWhirter Ltd Brisbane. I contacted the McWhirters Building site and was told it was not them who made the furniture. I have seen a site some years ago that said furniture was made on site at the McWhirters building in the Valley Brisbane. I find it hard to believe another company was using the same trading name as McWhirters Ltd. I would like to know if this piece of furniture is worth restoring for its historical value and if the McWhirters Department Store did actually manufacture furniture. Do you have any info on this matter?

    • Thanks for your question Stephen. I’ve transferred your inquiry to our Ask-a-librarian service.
      You’ll be hearing from us soon.

  40. Marie Phillips

    Hi there,
    I’m in New Zealand and have just come into possession of a piece of furniture, either a bedroom or hall piece, we can’t really make up our minds but it is marked The Crescent M** Co
    Stubbs St
    Kensington, Melbourne
    European Labour Only
    I would really appreciate finding out any information I am able about the manufacturer.

    • Thanks for your question Marie. I’ve transferred your inquiry to our Ask-a-librarian service.
      You’ll be hearing from us soon.

  41. Hi, I’ve recently acquired and restored a dresser stamped with “sue gay, 22 punch lane melbourne, cabinet maker, Chinese labour” I’d love to find out more about its maker, can you guide me where to look?

    • Hi Lucas,
      Thanks for reading our blog.
      I will log your questions with our reference service and one of our librarians will be in touch.

  42. Hi all, a very interesting article. I have a small basic rectangular table my mum gave me made by the Hawker Bros, Highbury Road in Burwood Victoria, which also has ‘European labor only’ stamp. Can anybody help me with who the Hawker Bros were and how old this table might be. Thanks in advance, Dean.

    • Hi Dean, thank you for your enquiry. I will log your question with our Ask a Librarian service, and one of our librarians will get back to you. Paul.

  43. Hello, I just bought an vintage accordion sewing cabinet and I am looking for information on J. Monsieurs Healesville (VIC) European Labor Only. This is a stamped blueish ink label. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you, Angela

    • Hi Angela, thank you for your enquiry. I will log your question with our Ask a Librarian service, and one of our librarians will get back to you. Paul.

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