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Illuminated addresses

Bound illuminated addresses online feature

Explore the stunning borders and the elegant calligraphy of these illuminated addresses presented to the former Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.

View a slideshow of some of the illuminated addresses

Held by the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Collection, the addresses can be seen and read in detail in this online feature. Reprography by Damian McDonald.

Bound illuminated address presented to Archbishop Carr.
Address presented to Archbishop Carr. Melbourne Catholic Diocesan Historical Commission.

View the 40 illuminated addresses up close (Requires Flash - download Flash)

Archbishop Thomas Carr

Thomas Joseph Carr, from County Galway, was Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne from 1886 until his death in 1917.

He received various illuminated addresses which were later bound in a large leather volume. They are now held by the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission.

The addresses were presented to Carr during on his time as Bishop of Galway between 1883 and 1886, and his early years as Archbishop of Melbourne between 1886 and 1901.

They were produced for various church and church associations, often in recognition of the Archbishop visiting a church, school, orphanage or convent.

Photographic portrait of Archbishop Thomas Carr wearing religious gowns and holding cross atop a staff in his right hand.
Archbishop Thomas Carr.
State Library of Victoria.

Grievances and praise

While invariably in praise of the Archbishop and his work, the addresses also drew attention to significant Catholic grievances such as paying tax to support state schools.

Catholics, in late 19th century Australia, were busy building and staffing their own schools but received no recognition, or tax relief, from secular colonial governments.

Today the art of the illuminated address has all but vanished. In the mid to late 19th, and early 20th century, they were a popular way to thank prominent individuals for their contribution to organisations.

The artistry that went in to these addresses ranged from the fairly amateur production to highly sophisticated illustration techniques and calligraphy. They were, at their best, an art form in themselves.

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