2003/148/4 Illuminated address, framed, painted and printed silk / wood / glass, used by Quong Tart , Sydney, Australia, 1894.
Mei Quong Tart was one of the most prominent Chinese Australians of his generation. After arriving in Australia from China in 1859 as a nine year old he grew up with Scottish families on the goldfields near Braidwood and Araluen. Tart embraced Anglo-Celtic customs from an early age and converted to Christianity but never denied his Chinese heritage. Despite the growing racism within New South Wales Tart occupied a respected and unique social position between, and within, the Chinese and Anglo-Australian communities.
After becoming wealthy from gold leases, he was naturalised in 1871, and later went into business in Sydney importing Chinese tea and silk. Tart developed a successful chain of tea rooms and restaurants, first in the Sydney Arcade, then King Street and later in the new Queen Victoria Markets Building. Decorated with a combination of Chinese and European elements, they became Sydney institutions among the Anglo-Australian population of Sydney. Tart employed mainly European Australians and was renowned for the generosity providing sick leave and free meals.
When he married English born Margaret Scarlett in 1886, Tart had already become a well-known philanthropist and activist - campaigning against the import of opium within the Chinese community while supporting a variety of Anglo-Australian organisatioa highlander, volunteer soldier of the Queen and mandarin on several occasions.
This illuminated address was one of many addresses, testimonials and letters of introduction that were presented to Tart as he prepared to return to China in 1881, 1888 and 1894. These were noted and recorded by his wife Margaret in her biography of Tart 'The Life of Quong Tart or How a Foreigner Succeeded in a British Community', 1911. It is a particularly handsome expression of the affection with which Quong Tart was regarded by his employees.