Inside Our Collection – The Letter Book

One of the most intriguing and fragile objects now on display in our current exhibition Milk – The River of Life is a letter copying book dating from 1881.

The book is a hard bound volume with a tan leather spine that is inscribed “letter book” The book has a blue green fabric cover.   Inside the book is an index and numbered pages of Japanese tissue paper, is a thin, strong paper made from vegetable fibres. The original letter, whilst its ink is wet is either inserted between drying sheets and pressed by hand or by copy press so that the ink transfers into the letter book. An entry is then made of its contents in the index.

Some of the letters in our letter book look as if too much moisture was used when making the copy, others are very clear.

The book originally belonged to Mr J. A. Davies who was the Land and General Commission Agent in Bega. His letters regarding land selections cover pages 1 to 168. From page 169 on the letters are those of the Moruya Co-op Dairy Co. Ltd., starting in 1894, two years after the company was established. There is an index to the letters in the front of the book of persons to whom the letters were sent.

Note: Due to the very flimsy nature of the paper in the book it is not available for general use but an index has been prepared so we can let researchers know if a letter to a particular person is in the book. The letter can then be copied using a camera.

The Moruya Co-operative Dairy Society

The society was established in March 1892 and in November the first factory opened in Hawdon Street. Twelve shareholders initially provided milk but this quickly increased to 26, supplying 800 gallons daily.

The factory’s first batch of cheese was forwarded to Sydney in November 1892. A new factory was built in 1930 and in 1964 the factory began supplying milk packaged in triangular (tetrahedral) containers. The venture failed.

The local factory eventually closed and the company was liquidated in April 1982. The building is now a private home.

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