The SA Maritime Museum preserves the oldest nautical collection in Australia. In 1872 the Port Adelaide Institute began a museum collection to complement its library and its educational and social programs. That collection grew over the following century reflecting the seafarers and the ships that visited Port Adelaide. It is now held in trust at the SA Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum’s collection ranges from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse that was first lit in 1869 to a plaque that explorer Matthew Flinders left at Memory Cove in 1802 to mark the loss to eight seafarers. It includes figureheads, nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artefacts, paintings, models and vessels.

Our scope is the maritime heritage of South Australia from the coast to inland waters. The collection of over almost 20,000 objects and over 20,000 images is at once a window to the heritage of the local community and to the ships of the world..

Bamboo toy furniture

Toy furniture set brought to South Australia as souvenir from China by Chief Petty Officer, Henry Perry.

The Perry family lived at the Torpedo Station between the North Arm of the Port River and the False Arm, on the eastern bank. Henry Perry was in charge of the Station from 1895 till it was disbanded in about 1913. He served on the Protector when it voyaged to China in 1900 to help quell the Boxer Rebellion. As Protector sailed down the Port River, Perry signalled goodbye with semaphore flags to his daughters, Eliza and Mabel. He brought back a number of exotic souvenirs from his voyage to China as gifts for his young family. These included several pairs of silk Chinese slippers and this toy furniture.

Associated locations: China, Port Adelaide

Caption: Chinese Minature Furniture - Five Pieces

AccessionNo: HT2007677 a-e(m)

Material: bamboo, tacks, woven material

Date Created: 1900

Physical Description:
Five pieces of bamboo furniture. a: Table b: Chair c: Chair d: Chair e: Chaise Longue

The furniture was purchased in China by Chief Petty Officer Henry Perry of 'HMCS Protector'. The South Australian vessel had been sent to China in 1900 to help quell the Boxer Rebellion. Perry was also caretaker of the Torrens Island Torpedo Station in Port Adelaide. The furniture is both representative of the type of mementos collected by sailors on voyages and personalises the story of a major international conflict. It is linked to the Perry family, key players in Port Adelaide’s nautical history.

Purchased by Chief Petty Officer Henry Perry for his children who lived at the Torpedo Station on the Port River. Perry purchased the toy furniture whilst in China as a member of the crew of South Australia’s colonial naval ship ‘HMCS Protector’. He also purchased two pairs of silk shoes, an opium pipe and some postcards, hand-painted on bamboo, as presents for his six children: Eliza, Mabel, Hilda, Harry, Edith and Mary. The Perry family lived at the Torpedo Station between the North Arm of the Port River and the False Arm, on the eastern bank. Henry Perry was caretaker of the Station from about 1890 till it was dismantled in 1913. All of the children grew up at the Torpedo Station, rowing or sailing up the Port River to school. This set of children's furniture was passed down through the Simmons branch of the Perry family to the Harrigan family. Lillian Harrigan donated the furniture to the South Australian Maritime Museum. ‘Protector’ was the most significant vessel in South Australian naval history. Its duties initially comprised vice regal tours to South Australian out ports, manoeuvres and training drills. In 1888 following the tragic shipwreck of the ‘Star of Greece’,’ Protector’ was made responsible for the training and maintenance of the colony’s lifeboat service which had languished since the early 1860s. The most dramatic event in the vessel’s history occurred in 1900 when ‘Protector’ was sent to help quell the Boxer Uprising in China as one of a combined British naval force. ‘Protector’ saw no action, but the efficiency of its crew was noted by the Royal Navy. Following the establishment of the Royal Australian Navy in 1910, ‘Protector’ became a Commonwealth naval ship.