13289 Wool sample, wool from a Ram (No.4), from sheep bred by Samuel Marsden, New South Wales, 1804
This wool sample is one of the eight samples of the first wool produced in Australia. The samples were cut from Reverend Samuel Marsden's sheep and submitted to Governor Captain P G King, RN by Samuel Marsden on 11th August 1804.
The samples were sent to King George III of England to prove that Australia could have a wool industry. In 1886 the samples were found among papers at the Colonial Secretary's office in London. They were presented to Sydney's Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences which, in 1988, became known as the Powerhouse Museum.
Samuel Marsden was one of the first people in the colony to grow sheep for wool. He was a visionary who stated in a letter back to family in England in 1811 "exporting wool will be the beginning of the commerce of this new world. Many think nothing of these things now, they cannot see any advantage to be derived to them, their children, or this settlement by improving the fleece of our sheep. But I anticipate immense national wealth to spring from this source of commerce in time".
These little pieces of wool signify the beginnings of merino sheep stud breeding in Australia. They represent the birth of the industry that fuelled the Australian economy from 1807 to 1960. Wool remains a valuable export commodity In 2007 Australia is the world's largest wool-producing country, accounting for 30% of world production. Our major markets are China, Italy, Taiwan, Korea and France.
Merinos, Myths and Macathurs, J.C Garran and L. White.
A.T. Yarwood 'Marsden, Samuel (1765-1838)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2. Melbourne University Press, 1967, pp207-212
Some private correspondence of the Rev Samuel Marsden and Family 1794-1824, by George Mackaness, Australian Historical Monographs.
Written by Erika Dicker
Assistant Curator, July 2007