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THE TASMANIAN JAM TRADE

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Tasmania 1869map
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A description of the THE TASMANIAN JAM TRADE was published in ‘The Mercury’ (11 January 1869, p. 2): a summary with additional comments is below.

The climate of Tasmania was favourable for fruit growing and jam was one of Tasmania’s greatest exports. Care was taken to provide the best quality, using the best and cleanest fruit, and inspections to factories were welcome. A greater amount of sugar, up to a pound for a pound, was used than would be in domestic supplies to ensure their keeping in warmer climates and on long sea voyages. The 1868 season had exported about 600 tons of jam, and legislation provided for a drawback of £2 8 shillings per ton of properly finished and packed jams to protect and encourage the trade.

The industry also employed many people. Peacock and Johnson on the New Wharf had the largest boiling establishment, as well as one at Port Cygnet and the Franklin. They estimated 250 tons of jam for the 1869 season. Peacock and Johnson employed about one hundred hands at the height of the season, and over thirty throughout the year: many of them were women and children employed for labelling and packing. C E Knight’s establishment at Campbell Street estimated 220 tons of jam and would employ seventy hands during the season. Knight also shipped 100 tons of small fruit to his brother in Melbourne for jam making. A dozen more individual jam makers of smaller quantities were estimated to bring the total product of the 1869 season to 790 tons of jam, providing permanent employment to one hundred and fifty hands, and temporary employment to two hundred and fifty seven persons - one third of whom were women and children. The export value at about £60 per ton from the Derwent would be £47,000, and another 300 tons from northern Tasmania would bring another £18,000 – a total of £65,000 for the 1869 season.

Two other branches of the industry, packing case makers and tin smiths, also provided employment:

The tinned jams are uniformly packed in cases, and the 1lb. tins being the most saleable, the cases are made to hold just 5 dozen of these, and for convenience in charging drawback, there are allowed 40 cases to the ton, which, although weighing gross 2,400 lbs., yet after allowing the tare of the tins gives a ton of 2,240 lbs. net. The number of boxes required for this year's export is calculated at from 30,000 to 32,000. Six casemakers, including Frederick John Henningham, employed between sixty and seventy hands throughout the year, generally boys and youths. Assuming an equal supply from all casemakers, about five thousand cases from each maker at tenpence each case, Frederick John Henningham could expect to make greater than £200 for the year before expenses: premises, tools, timber, nails, and labour.

There were four tinsmiths, altogether employing about sixty boys: ‘who nearly all find employment the year round, as during the slack season at the shops they are employed at the jam factories soldering down the little button to the top of each tin.’ For this season they would require 1400 boxes of sheet tin. Three lithographers in Hobart printed the labels, on coloured paper with gold or silver coloured letters, who may otherwise not have found enough employment. Merchants and shipowners, charcoal burners, carters, settlers, and market gardeners all make a profit from the industry.

WHERE DOES THE FRUIT COME FROM ? The fruit - raspberries, black currants, gooseberries, redcurrants, cherries and plums - principally came from Sandy Bay, Browns River, North West Bay and gardens along the Huon road: On Saturday morning last no less than ten cart-loads of raspberries, and black currants, came from this locality alone, to the different boilers. Large quantities of fruit also come up from the Huon, from New Norfolk, Cambridge, and in fact from all the townships around Hobart Town.





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