The title above is an understatement. A post on the Australian forum Dirt Fishing attracted my attention. It was entitled, More of the Same. Not exactly a ‘come-on’ for the readers. Nestling amongst a group of indistinguishable coins in a rather poor picture was an intriguing bit of Aussie social history.
The writer ‘Heath‘, also known as ‘Coffscratcher’ (don’t ask!) described it as … “an old bottle cap I thought was half-interesting”. A simple bit of research revealed that it was probably his star find that day, and very interesting. This is what he found …
Heath was detecting near Bendigo, Victoria where the discovery of gold in 1851 transformed the place from a sheep station to a gold mining boomtown … he had high expectations.
History can sometimes be missed unless we take a closer look at what is unearthed. Sometimes simple research can lead us to discover ‘treasure’ in what was previously considered as ‘junk’.
Seizing the Opportunity
Three brothers from Denmark started the Cohn family business during the Bendigo gold rush in 1882. Their business acumen was first class and they reckoned that the prospectors would need cool drinks. they introduced lager (served cold) to the Australian public. The business lasted a century, with Cohn products sold across Australia and exported to the United Kingdom and Asia. In 1970 it was absorbed by Carlton and United Breweries.
This sign, advertising Cohn’s lemonade cordial, was hand painted by Bendigo signwriter Frank Barr. Barr believes he painted the sign around 1954, one of many jobs of this type he performed for Cohn Bros.
Having been obscured for decades by an adjacent building, recent demolition revealed the well-preserved sign, which can be found at the corner of Bridge & Arnold Streets, Bendigo. Frank said, “I did that job that’s on the wall there. I was given a label of the lemonade bottle which of course was only very small and it was my job then to reproduce it in the, well, very large size that it is on the wall.”
The discovery of gold in Bendigo’s story is obviously a very important part of history, but Heath’s artefact shows how Cohn’s has contributed much more to Australia. The brothers went on to build an empire and, through introducing cold lager to the country, changed the drinking preferences of Australians.
Cordial was a necessity at the time of the gold rush as water was considered unpalatable. The Cohn cordial products were successful and the brothers went on to produce other staples such as fruit preserves.
QUICK to QUENCH – FAIR DINKUM, RAY
Thanks to Heath for allowing me to share his most interesting find.
Friday 29th October
My Diggin’ Down-under friend, RAY SWINNERTON, who lives in Swan Hill and posts frequently on English forums, contacted me with one of his finds – a Cohn’s ginger beer bottle that looks in perfect condition. He confirmed that Cohn’s factory was situated in Bendigo and his town of Swan Hill.
I take this opportunity to publicly thank Ray for the interest he takes in my blog.
I appreciate that!