The Famous Mrs Fanny Finch

The Famous Mrs Fanny Finch

Written by Cassidy Krygger

On the 18th of August 2020, it was the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in the United States, meaning it was a century ago that some women in the US finally had the right to vote.

The anniversary was widely and justifiably celebrated throughout America and in turn, was all over my social media feeds. And it got me thinking, what about women’s suffrage in Australia? Who were the women who fought long and hard so that women could vote? I was happy to discover that we were almost two decades ahead of our American friends with Australian women over the age of 21 given the right to vote in 1908. Of course, this does not include Victorian Indigenous women who could not vote until 1965. But there was one woman who cast her vote in Victoria 52 years before women’s suffrage was achieved. On January 22nd, 1856 – businesswoman Mrs Fanny Finch cast her vote in Castlemaine, Victoria and wrote her name in the history books.

Fanny was born Frances Combe in London, 1815. An orphan from birth, she believed her parents to be of African descent. 

She grew up in the St Pancreas Fledgling Home which protected her from slavery and provided her with an education. In 1836 at the age of 21, she was granted free passage to the new colony of South Australia as a servant of the well regarded surgeon William Wyatt. Within the decade of arriving in Australia, Fanny had left the employ of Mr Wyatt and his artist wife Julia, and had married a sailor by the name of Joseph Finch.

It mustn’t have been a joyful union because by 1850 and for reasons unknown, the now Mrs Fanny Finch had left her husband and with her four kids in tow, walked her way from South Australia to Victoria.

Castlemaine Art Museum

Mrs Finch was about to strike gold, arriving in Victoria 12 months before the Gold Rush began. 

She and her children settled in Castlemaine, which at one point in the 1850s was one of the richest goldfields in the world. 30,000 people descended on Castlemaine from all around the world and Mrs Finch quickly became a successful businesswoman with her very own restaurant and boarding house. Rumours abounded that her business was a place for the more impolite side of society. A place where a person could get some sly grog and a woman to sleep with for the night. And in 1855 she was persecuted for selling illegal spirits. In an astounding move for a woman at the time, Mrs Finch defended herself and demanded an apology letter from the Mount Alexander Times, which was the newspaper that had reported on her trial. 

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But it was in 1856 that Fanny Finch etched her name in history when in the Castlemaine elections, she and another anonymous woman cast their votes.

And they did it legally. The Municipal Institutions Act of 1854 stated that  “any rate-paying persons’ which Mrs Finch as a businesswoman was, could vote. Scandal followed soon after. Melbourne newspaper The Argus reported on the event, called her the ‘Famous Mrs. Fanny Finch’ and her actions the ‘incident of the day’.

Election officials disallowed the women their votes on the basis that ‘women had no right to vote.’ And in 1865 the Municipal Institutions Act of 1854 was amended to exclude women from voting by changing the law from “any rate-paying persons’ to “any rate-paying men” 

Fanny Finch died in 1863 at the age of 48 and was buried in an unmarked grave. 

It wasn’t until January 2020, that the Victorian Government and Fanny’s descendants erected a headstone in her honour at Castlemaine cemetery. 

A woman fighting for survival in a male dominated world. A single mother. A woman of colour. And the first woman to vote in Victoria. Why has the famous Mrs Fanny Finch been allowed to fade away to history? And it has got me thinking, what other influential and now unknown people lurk under the dusty pages of our history books?

https://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national/castlemaine-diggings

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/4829043

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The Small Town Boy Who Undressed Marilyn

The Small Town Boy Who Undressed Marilyn

Written by Cassidy Krygger

From a small country town in New South Wales to dressing Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and designing costumes for some of the biggest movies on the silver screen, Orry-Kelly’s rise to success was astounding. 

He was once the most famous Australian in Hollywood and was the Aussie with the most Academy Awards to his name until 2014, having won three over his thirty year career. And yet, in his home country, barely anyone knew about him and after his death in 1964, he became virtually forgotten. So who is Orry-Kelly, Australia’s first Hollywood legend?

Orry George Kelly was born in 1897 in Kiama, New South Wales and from a young age, had aspirations to be on the stage. 

To divert him to something more respectable, his mother sent a 17 year old Orry to Sydney to study banking. This wasn’t a wise move on Mrs Kelly’s part, because his love for the theatre only flourished more in the Harbour City.

Orry inserted the hyphen and removed the George and became the glamourous Orry-Kelly when he moved to New York in 1922 to finally pursue a career in acting. 

He shared an apartment with a handsome young man who had just arrived from the UK by the name of Archie Leach who also had aspirations to be a star. The pair, according to Kelly, shared an on and off relationship for the next few years until Archie Leach was shipped off to Hollywood to become Cary Grant. 

Meanwhile, his acting career wasn’t fairing much better. 

After literally dropping a few chorus girls during a dance number (he admitted to having weak arms), it was decided he was best to do something behind the scenes.  Kelly began to work on the costumes and designing stage sets, gaining notice of some Hollywood heavyweights such as Warner Bros. executive Jack Warner. 

Hollywood beckoned in 1932 and Orry-Kelly found himself moving to the West Coast where he was hired by Warner Bros as a chief costume designer. 

Orry-Kelly finally hit his stride and he found where he belonged. He designed the costumes for almost 300 films including for iconic movies such as Casablanca, An American in Paris and Some Like it Hot where he designed one of Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic and sexy outfits. He became Bette Davis’ most relied upon costume designer early on in her career, she would refuse to do a film if he wasn’t designing her costumes. What made Orry-Kelly extraordinary and forward thinking was that while most studios at the time reused costumes to save money, he created costumes for the characters and the actors who were portraying them. 

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One to never forget his roots,  Orry-Kelly visited Australia as often as he could and kept his thick Aussie accent, which must have seemed alien to the Old Hollywood elite.

Throughout his time in Hollywood, Orry-Kelly spent his time writing a memoir of his experiences. Something that put Cary Grant on edge, who ended up being able to block the publication in the 1960s.

An alcoholic for many years, Orry-Kelly passed away from liver cancer in 1964. Cary Grant was a pallbearer at his funeral. May we never forget him, a boy with a dream who lived life to the absolute Hollywood hilt. 

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Pondering The World’s Strangest Toys

Pondering The World’s Strangest Toys

Written by Cassidy Krygger

We all had a favourite toy when we were kids. 

From dolls to cars, puzzles and blocks toys play a vital part in a child’s education and imagination. But there are some toys out there that are just plain weird and should not be allowed in any child’s playroom. Search the internet and you will find more than just a Chucky Doll. Here are some of the weirdest toys that have hit the shelves in the past 60 years.

Airborne Microbes Screaming Diseases -(The Fun Way to Spread Germs – WTH?) 

 We are pretty sure this toy has never been less appropriate than right now in 2020, but as the website proclaims “Instead of infecting people around you with real germs and not having any fun at all, now you can spread them much further and have a few laughs as well.” Each to their own I guess! 

Two-Headed Teddy Bear 

 

There is so much wrong with this that it is almost right? It looks like the makers of this creepy bear took the saying ‘Two heads are better than one” literally. We wish we could tell you that this toy was still available for purchase – but it’s not. Shame. I guess you could always make your own?

http://www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org/

Pee and Poo 

 Amazon lists the Pee & Poo plush toys  as currently unavailable and I honestly don’t understand why. This is the first item on this list I would buy. The possibilities are endless. I would love them on my desk at the Ponderings office. 

 

The Face Bank 

Why wouldn’t you want to put your coins in a Face Bank? And you can get them in all different colours, too! It’s a win/win! To truly understand the creepiness of this… thing, you must watch this YouTube Video to see it in action. 

 

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Titanic Inflatable Slide 

I was beginning to think that these toys don’t actually exist in real life, but just in some weird corner of the internet. Unfortunately, I have actually seen one of these Titanic Inflatable Slides in the flesh at my local Summer Carnival and everytime I do, I always wonder “who thought this would be a good idea?”  It’s always too soon to cash in on other people’s grief. 

 

Poo Dough

I am sorry for all the poo talk in this article, but people really like making some weird poop toys. This delightful Play Dough also comes with a canister of yellow dough for your “corn and peanut accessories.” Just a big NO from me. Here’s the link if it’s a yes from you Amazon

 

 

Little Miss No Name 

 

Released in the 1960s and a different approach to the popular and glamorous Barbie Doll, Little Miss No Name came with no shoes and only a burlap sack for a dress. Not surprisingly, the doll wasn’t a success. There are a few on eBay for sale if you really want one. I won’t judge you. 

https://www.ebay.com/b/Little-Miss-No-Name/15991/bn_55190536

 Milky The Marvelous Milking Cow 

What kid doesn’t dream of milking a cow? I know I certainly did. Well back in the 1970s, you could! Milky The Marvelous Milking Cow was released in 1977 and PLEASE watch the commercial. It’s everything you will ever need to see. 

 

Well there you have it, 9 of the creepiest and honestly least offensive toys I could find from the depths of the Internet. 

I am grateful that I never came across these as a child, I don’t think I would have recovered from the trauma. I would love to know if you had one of these toys or something even weirder. 

Jump over to our Facebook page and inbox us your weirdest toy! 

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Pondering  Quirky Collections From Around the World

Pondering Quirky Collections From Around the World

Written by Cassidy Krygger

From back scratchers to hotel key cards, humans like to collect weird and quirky stuff. 

And some of us are so good at it that it can garner you a mention in the Guinness World Records. According to the Neurologist and collector of Chinese Porcelain, Dr Shirley M. Mueller, humans collect objects for one simple reason; it makes us happy. 

But let’s not confuse the habit of collecting with hoarding – The Great Toilet Paper Hoard of 2020 ringing a traumatic bell? 

Collectors generally feel a sense of pride in their possessions and keep them well looked after and organised. A hoarder commonly suffers the difficulty of parting with any item, regardless of its value with serious side effects for the health both physically and mentally for the Hoarder in question. 

We had a riot researching some of the weirdest and wackiest collections from around the world and here are our top 10 quirky finds. 

Celebrity Hair Collection

 Guinness World Record holder John Reznikoff has a collection of celebrity hair from the likes of Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. He doesn’t sell his collection nor collect the hair of living people. 

photo credit @JohnReznikoff

Napkin Collection

Antonia Kozakova has collected over 80,000 napkins since beginning the collection over 20 years ago. The oldest dating back to 1940, Kozakova has napkins from all over the world. And she has no intent on stopping with her next goal to get to 100,000 napkins.

 

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Traffic Cones

Not only does David Morgan hold the World Record for the collection of the most traffic cones, but he also claims (disputed) to have invented them. He must really love traffic cones. 

Toothpaste Tubes

Dr Val Kolapov is a dentist who takes his love of teeth to the next level. He has collected over 3,000 tubes of toothpaste from all over the world, a habit he calls “much, much more exciting” than the pulled teeth he used to collect which is lucky because he displays his collected tubes in his office. 

Back Scratchers

Manfred S. Rothstein will never have an itchy back again with the 675 back scratchers he has collected from over 70 countries. Beginning his collection in the 1970s, dermatologist Rothstein keeps his back scratchers displayed in his clinic. 

Joker Cards

After inheriting over 2,000 Joker Cards in 1999, Italian man Tony De Santis has since amassed over 8,000 Joker Cards. According to the Guinness World Records, De Santis likes  to memorise each and every one of his Joker Cards and spends time looking at them individually every week. 

Hotel Key Card Collection

Another card collection but this time something a bit different, it belongs to a 10-year-old boy. Elias Brooks from South Carolina is now a Guinness World Record holder with a collection of 540 Hotel Key Cards.  Brooks began his collection at just 5 years old when he kept his hotel key card from a family holiday. And he plans on continuing to grow his impressive collection. 

Erasers

Petra Engels from Germany need never make a mistake on paper again. With an impressive 19,571 non-duplicate erasers. Beginning her collection in 1981 at the age of 9, she has amassed her erasers from over 100 countries. 

Sugar Packets

With the oldest sugar packet in his collection dating back to 1950, Ralf Schroder has collected over 14,500 sugar packets since starting his collection in 1987. That’s one heck of a sweet tooth. 

Garden Gnomes

Have you heard of a magical garden in England that is home to over 2,000 Garden Gnomes? Belonging to Ann Atkins, the garden, now called ‘The Gnome Reserve’ is now a tourist attraction that is visited by over 25,000 people per year. Atkins asks all humans to don a pointy hat before entering the garden so as ‘not to embarrass the gnomes.’ I know where I am going as soon as the International travel ban is lifted!

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