Staff of Coles and Garrard, Opticians, 1936

Catalogue Number: 3179
Staff of Coles and Garrard, Opticians, 1936
Category: Painting or other art work
Sub-Category: Drawing or etching
Artist: OVENDEN Dick (1897-1972)
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: 1936
Time Period: 1900 to 1939
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: Melbourne
Description Of Item: Black and white cartoon on white paper or card, 710 x 555 mm, framed under glass in a simple black frame. It depicts the staff of Coles and Garrard Pty Ltd in 1936. It is inscribed in the bottom right hand corner 'To Earle Coles with best wishes from a pal, the artist Dick Ovenden 1936.' One of the office women, Miss Kilner , has been altered (most likely by the artist) with a paste over of a different face, which is partially detached from the cartoon.
Historical Significance: Coles and Garrard Pty Ltd was the largest optometry firm in Melbourne until it was sold to OPSM in 1988 and ceased trading under its name a few years afterwards. It was established in March 1922 and located at 370 to 372 Bourke Street. From the 1940s it established branches in country towns and at the Chadstone Shopping Centre in 1960. Earle Coles was the proprietor. This cartoon shows its size: there are 37 persons depicted including 15 optometrists (styled refractionists in the cartoon), 2 artificial eye experts and two hearing aid experts. Four of the optometrists travelled to service country towns as visiting optometrists (designated Country refractionists). The Victorian Opticians Act came into force in 1936, the year this cartoon was created, and for the first time optometrists had to hold a recognised qualification or have have demonstrated sufficient prior experience (under Section 8 of the Act) to be registered and be entitled to continue to practise. The registration board records show that 12 of the 'refractionists' depicted were registered in 1936, 6 under Section 8, four holding the recognised local qualification of FVOA, one with FBOA, FSMC from the UK and one with DBOA. Three did not apply for registration. one of whom (Eric Bissett) is known to have continued as a 'facial fitter' adjusting and delivering glasses to patients. In addition one of the hearing aid experts, J Brown. was registered as was the proprietor Earle Coles, but it is thought neither practised optometry. Coles was however a government appointed member of the first Victorian Registration Board. James Brown succeeded Earle Coles as managing director, when Coles sold the firm to his senior staff about 1950. The cartoon includes an image of William George Cole (top right hand corner) the father of Barry L Cole, who became the foundation professor of optometry at the University of Melbourne. Richard (Dick) Ovenden (1897-1972) was a well known Melbourne cartoonist and caricaturist. Several pieces of his work are held in the National Library of Australia. A smaller copy of the work is held by the Kett Museum at Cat No. 110, a copy originally owned by W. Cole. The smaller copy is cropped at the bottom and the artist's message has been pasted in the left hand corner.
How Acquired: Donated by John McGibbony, Member of the College
Date Acquired: Nov 2016
Condition: Good. Water stains along bottom edge. Frame most likely not original
Location: Archive entry corridor

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