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Das Briten Blick von Australien aus nach China

  • Publisher: Edgar Schmidt, Dresden (ESD), Germany
  • Date: c1900
  • Dimensions: 14 x 9 cms


Rare novelty map postcard, c1900, published by Edgar Schmidt Dresden depicting Australia as a bearded Edwardian gentleman

About this piece:

Das Briten Blick von Australien aus nach China

[The British View from Australia towards China]

Original colour-printed German postcard. Unused. Verso with additional imprint of the Dresden Constantin Butziger Restaurant “Der Hirsch am Rauchhaus” on left side. Very slightly bumped and rubbed at corners but overall a very fine, clean example.

Extremely rare and unusual anthropomorphic German map postcard, one of a series of such amusing novelty cards published in the first decade of the 20th Century by the Dresden firm of Edgar Schmidt. The card bears the series number 8146 in the lower corner alongside the Edgar Schmidt logo: the initials ESD displayed on a curved crest.

The landmass of Australia takes the form of a red-headed, bewhiskered gentleman with full beard and stiff collar & jacket, whose light blue eyes gaze with fixed stare towards the north. His prominent nose follows the outline of Cape York whilst his mouth and chin match neatly with the outlines of the Gulf of Carpentaria & Arnhem Land. Only Sydney & Melbourne are actually marked on the map itself. New Guinea takes on the shape of a beckoning left hand, with the accompanying arm shown in faint outline running from his shoulder in Western Australia through Java, Borneo, the Celebes & Spice Islands.

O China sei mein! Lass’ Dich nicht mit dem Russen ein!

Oh China be mine! Don’t let yourself get involved with the Russians!

…exclaims the accompanying German text.

It is interesting that this postcard was probably published shortly after the First Sino-Japanese War [1894-5] and the subsequent Russian invasion of Manchuria and the infamous Boxer Rebellion. Events which by 1900 had resulted in most of Chinese Manchuria being occupied & placed under the military control of the Russians. The card may well have been a commentary on that unfolding political and military situation in Northern China.

Equally it may perhaps have been a contemporary German commentary on or critique of controversial new immigration policies introduced shortly after Australian Federation in 1901. The previous decades had witnessed significant Chinese immigration into Australia in the wake of the mid-19th Century Gold  Rush. However rising anti-Chinese sentiment began to manifest itself in both rural and urban areas of the country in the 1880s and 1890s and  came to a head with the advent of Australian Federation. Chinese immigration was brought to an abrupt halt shortly thereafter by the passage of the Immigration Restriction Act [1901], which actively sought to preserve a “White Australia” policy by giving priority to immigrants of British ethnicity & origin and by also enforcing an extremely challenging 50 word “dictation test” for all new migrants arriving in Australia. There was considerable opposition from the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, in London, who protested that a  race-based immigration policy would run “contrary to the general conceptions of equality which have ever been the guiding principle of British rule throughout the Empire”.  Chamberlain also sought to placate the populations of Britain’s non-white colonies by pressing for “aboriginal natives of Asia, Africa, or the islands thereof” to be allowed continued unrestricted entry into Australia. Australian Prime Minister Edward Barton actively supported the Bill and responded brusquely to British requests, proclaiming after the successful passage of Bill that: “The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman.”

A rare and unusual map postcard.