The Shearers by Patsy Adam-Smith is worth a place in the best of libraries if only for its superb collection of photographs and reproductions – 291 of them! She is to be commended for including reproductions of an 1891 ‘Loyalty’ certificate, an 1890 Queensland Shearers’ Union ticket and three ‘shearing ticket’ versions of the Amalgamated Workers’ Union. I wish I could claim possession of an original of these. I do, however, have a complete collection of every membership certificate issued in what is now called The Australian Workers’ Union right from its very beginning in 1886, when it was called the Australasian Shearers’ Union.
Ms Adam-Smith makes the mistake so often made, even by W.G. Spence, of describing the Australasian Shearers’ Union as the ‘Amalgamated Shearers’ Union’. It was not until after the amalgamation of the various shearers’ unions that the Creswick based union changed its name to Amalgamated Shearers’ Union of Australasia. And, in 1894, when that union extended its constitution to embrace general labourers, it became The Australian Workers’ Union.