Whilst searching for sources of information on pear ‘Beurré Sterckmans’ the other day – which we were growing in the Plot #79 orchard before the tree’s rootstock died last winter – I stumbled across the Museums Victoria Whatmough Collection.
It seems that in 1875 a fruit grower by the name of Robert Whatmough from Greensborough in Melbourne, presented the museum with a number of apples, pears and crab apples. Thomas McMillan then made wax models of the fruit, and those models are still in the museum’s archives, along with dozens more made by Mr McMillan and other wax artists between the 1870s and late 1940s.
As you’d expect from 140ish year old wax models some of them are a little cracked around the glaze, but the majority are still mostly intact and still rather lovely objects. And of course the full listing provides a snapshot of popular Australian fruit cultivars of the day.
Here are a few images from the Whatmough Collection (which Museums Victoria have released under a CC Attribution 4.0 license). To see more of the wax models in the overall Museums Victoria Wax Fruit Collection, visit collections.museumsvictoria.com.au.