This collection covers a broad range of subjects including: early migrants in South Australia, the HMS Buffalo, surveying, the foundation of Adelaide, colonial government, exploration, mining, industry, early military history, royal memorabilia, numismatics and weapons. The collection features significant objects such as Light’s plan of Adelaide, the Stanhope Press (the first printing press in South Australia) and the Tinline Salver, among many other state treasures.


The Historical Relics Collection is one of the most extensive collections of artefacts from the early years of the British colony of South Australia. It provides an invaluable record of early settlers, explorers and the colonial government. The collection is reported to have started in 1836 in connection to the formation of the South Australian Company in England. First archival documents and then ‘relics’ were donated to Mechanical Institutes and other organisations which then formed the South Australian Institute. The collection was retained by the Boards of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery until 1940 when it was moved to the Art Gallery as it became a separate institution. It was at that time that a register was compiled and the collection was first referred to as the ‘Historical Relics’. The collection was transferred from the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1984 to the History Trust of South Australia. The Migration Museum and South Australian Maritime Museum now manage the Historical Relics on behalf of the History Trust of South Australia.

Catherine Manning's picture
Catherine Manning says:

Hi Michael,
Unfortunately I've just seen your message. The closet match to what you describe that I can find is this 'proclamation' -

If this is not what you are looking for I would suggest getting in touch with the City of Adelaide Archives to see if the Calligraphy Board actually ended up with them -

Best of luck with your search.

Michael Williams's picture
Michael Williams says:

I am a visiting researcher trying to track down a valuable Imperial Calligraphy Board gifted by the Emperor of China to the City of Adelaide in 1889. I have been informed that it might be in your collection. I would be most grateful for clarification and even better an opportunity to view. Unfortunately I am only here till Friday. Regards, Michael Williams

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