Document box used at the Royal Australian Mint
This box has come to the museum by descent through the family of William Frederick Gibson, Registrar and Accountant of the Sydney Mint. Gibson started his career at the mint in 1863, replacing Elliot Arthur Knipe who had worked there from the very beginning in 1853. At the time of Gibson's death in 1878, he held the third most senior position as Senior Clerk and Coiner earning the substantial sum of 600 pounds per annum. This box is a rare survivor from the Sydney Mint and offers a tangible link to an employee and profession otherwise materially unrepresented in the museum's collection.
The opening of the Sydney Mint was a major achievement for the colony of New South Wales. Conversion of the southern wing of the old Rum hospital began in earnest in 1853 under the guidance of Captain EW Ward. The buildings forming a courtyard with the existing hospital wing were entirely built from imported materials and erected by the Royal Sappers and Miners (later Royal Engineers), conscripted especially to do the task. These same soldiers had two years earlier (1851) erected the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition in London using similar prefabricated cast-iron technology.
This box was possibly a document container for official papers of the Sydney Mint. The shipping labels on the box suggest it was possibly used to carry requests or instructions to and from Britain. The Sydney Mint was a branch of the Royal Mint in London, and the relationship between the two was by necessity close. This is demonstrated in the management structure with the head of the Sydney Mint only ever called the Deputy Mint Master - the actual Master being that of the Royal Mint in London.