Object detail

Keyring promoting Red Cross blood donations. Acrylic lozenge shaped fob with blue field charged with a red drop, charged in turn with a voided Greek cross. Chinese script on fob and on product label. Keyring is still sealed in original plastic packet.
PERSONAL EFFECTS Keyrings & Knives key ring
L45 x W33 x H3 mm
Media/Materials description
Steel, acrylic.
Chinese inscription
History and use
The Red Cross commenced operation in Australia in 1914 with the primary aim of sending care parcels to WW1 troops. The service quickly expanded to provide a range of services including medical transport (of patients and equipment) and a tracing and messaging service (for contacting military personnel). Post-war, the emphasis was on relief efforts and medical care for returned servicemen.

The Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service was started in 1929 in Melbourne, with Brisbane’s service opening in 1933. The Australian Red Cross ‘Blood Bank’ continues to be Australia’s primary service for the collection and supply of blood products.

The objects in this collection are dated between 1936 and 1972. They belonged to several people connected with Brisbane’s early blood transfusion service, including the Director of the Brisbane service ca.1950s to 1970s, Dr A E Shaw, and Dr H C Taylor, one of the service’s main practitioners in the 1960s. Correspondence documents from and about these men provide detailed provenance for some of the items in this collection: such as a memorial note from Shaw on the occasion of Taylor’s death, and a photo of Taylor with nurses taking a blood sample.

The collection includes several other objects that do not have a direct provenance, but nonetheless flesh out the work of the service (medical instruments) and locate the Australian Red Cross within a global context (donor badges from around the world). A bottle of dried serum is said to be from one of the earliest trials of the desiccation process in Cambridge, 1940. A certificate issued to a regular donor, Brisbane solicitor J. H. Howard, 1936, shows how donors were rewarded for their generosity. Cinema advertising slides from the Bundaberg service (ca.1942) show the ways in which the Red Cross encouraged the public to contribute.
Associated person
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