The period between 1900 and the World War I was the high point of Chinese furniture making in Melbourne.
The Sands & McDougall Victorian directories have been a valuable source of information about Chinese cabinet makers and planemakers. By 1912, there were 818 Chinese cabinet makers working in 168 factories, along with 2108 Europeans working in 378 factories.
It is during this period that specialist Chinese toolmakers can be identified. The Sands & McDougall Directory for 1899 lists Lim Toon as a cabinet maker working in Hayward's Lane, Melbourne (near the State Library). Lim Toon remained at this address until 1902 and then his name disappears from the directory.
Louey Woon is first listed as a planemaker in 1908 and again in 1909 at 14 Leichardt St Melbourne (no longer in existence though some of Little Leichardt St does exist off Little Lonsdale St).
Louey Wing appears in 1911 as a cabinet maker. Each year until 1920, Louey Wing appears at either 9 or 14 Leichardt St as cabinet maker or plane maker (ref 1).
Considerable numbers of planes in the traditional Chinese style, made from red ironbark appear in plane collections in Victoria. Most commonly found names are Lim Toon and Louey Woon.
Chinese-style planes were also made by non-Chinese planemakers - Kennedy is one example.
To date we only have images of the Toon and Woon planes. Others will be added when available.
Chay Gum Plane from early 1900s
Chinese-style plane made in Melbourne by Chay Gum around the period early 1900s.
Chinese-style plane made by Kennedy
Made in Melbourne in the early 1900s.
Selection of Chinese-style planes by Lim Toon
Made in Melbourne by Lim Toon around the period late 1890s to early 1900s
Selection of Chinese_style planes by Louey Woon
Made in Melbourne around the period early 1900s.
Chinese plane by Louey Woon around the early 1900s
Picture courtesy Adam Lee.
If anyone out there can supply pictures of other Chinese-style planes from that era (for example C. Foo and Chay Gum), please make contact with the Curator.
Reference 1 - extract from article "Chinese Furniture Makers in Melbourne" published in the Federation Issue of 'The Tool Chest', issue #61, August 2001.
The HTPAA welcomes any additional information, pictures and ephemera relating to these tools or any other Australian Makers.
Contact the Australian Collection Curator.