[Editor: This article about the Bread and Cheese Club was published in Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW), 30 November 1940.]
Bread & Cheese
and literary mateship
Believe it or not, there’s a spot of Bohemia in Melbourne.
The Beefsteak Club is a memory …. Fasoli’s is no more …. but there has been re-born the Bread and Cheese Club, foster-child of a day, more than 80 years ago, when the original organisation of that name was founded in Melbourne.
Following closely on the traditions of those older institutions, Melbourne’s Bread and Cheese Club has for its motto, “Mateship, Art, Letters,” and is giving practical encouragement to art and literature in Australia.
Once a month convivial souls, all with some relationship to letters and the arts, foregather at Melbourne’s Bread and Cheese Club.
They have their Knight Grand Cheese, who is their president; an “Honorable Trencherman,” the vice-president; a “Worthy Scribe,” the secretary; a “Trusty Bagman,” who looks after the cash; and senior and junior “Corkscrews,” who look after the bottles that are an accompaniment to bread and cheese.
Each member is a Fellow Cheese — the title, Mister, is taboo.
Invitations to club gatherings strike a note decidedly pleasant, for there is embossed on card and notepaper the club’s insignia, drawn to specification and certified correct by Melbourne’s leading heraldic authority, Mr. R. K. Peacock, librarian at Victoria Barracks.
“On a field azure a cross argent, charged at the chief point with a bottle plentiful and inviting between four glasses foaming. First quarter a loaf of bread, second a palette with issuant therefrom a mahl and brushes, third an open book, fourth a cheese sextant, all proper. The whole ensigned with two quills saltire and a bottle of ink. In base upon a scroll the motto, ‘Mateship, Art, Letters’.”
That is the heraldic reading of the coat-of-arms.
To J. K. Moir, a well-known Melbourne businessman, belongs, in great measure, the honor of re-creating the Melbourne Bread and Cheese Club. Rightly he is its present Knight Grand Cheese. Bob Croll, greatest of authorities on Melbourne’s Bohemia of half a century back, is Moir’s “Worthy Trencherman.”
J. K. Moir is neither an artist, except in his love of beauty; an author, other than in a very small way; or a poet, beyond what is in his heart. But in years of travel over Australia, from the Gulf country in the Far North to Port Phillip, he has found time to attract to himself many friends who have pictured Australia in prose or poesy, and with pencil or paint.
The Bread and Cheese Club is Moir’s idea of mateship and fellowship of kindred spirits, aiming at the promotion of healthy discussion on Australia literature, and with particular regard to the creation of a true Australian sentiment.
Associated with him in the foundation of the club were artist Ted Turner, poet John Shaw Neilsen, Ted Harrington (of “Boundary Bend,” and other verses), Joe Neild (son of the famous doctor), J. Alex. Allan, and a number of others imbued with a great desire to do something that would be of assistance to the Australian artist, author, and poet.
Ted Turner’s home in Cubitt Street, Richmond — incidentally, Martha Needle, of murderous memory, once occupied those premises — was the first meeting place of the club.
Now the club has premises of its own in Post Office Place, Melbourne. There you may meet Victor Cobb, foremost of Victoria’s etchers; Rod Quinn, sometimes; Roy Bridges, Nat. Spielvogel, “Jim Grahame,” Henry Lawson’s old cobber; Bernard O’Dowd, Con. Lindsay, of the Dawn and Dusk Club, that flourished in Sydney’s Bohemia in the 90’s; Alan Marshall, prolific short story writer; Phil Whelan, founder of the Whelan collection at the Commonwealth Library, Canberra; artist Harold Herbert, Ted Pescott, authority on Australian flora, and author of lives of Bonwick and Joseph Furphy; Brett Randall, of Melbourne’s Little Theatre; and a host of others. The club doesn’t encourage folk who aren’t interesting.
In its first year — it is not yet quite two years old — the Bread and Cheese Club took in hand the publication of a number of small volumes, embodying some of the works of well-known writers. It has identified itself actively with every movement for the benefit of Australian writers and artists, and is conducting an exhibition of Australian art and literature, which will continue at the Velasquez Galleries until November 30.
In first editions, rare volumes, and a keenly-selected display of paintings and etchings, there will be much of interest in this exhibition. All expenses are being borne by the club.
Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW), 30 November 1940, p. 12
Bread and Cheese Club = a social club dedicated to the promotion of the arts in Australian, founded in Melbourne in 1938
[Editor: Changed “Cockscrews” to “Corkscrews”; “Artist Harold Herbert” to “artist Harold Herbert”.]