A Career in Cards

Each year, the Art Department of Queensland Can Company (later United Packages Limited) would produce a greeting card for their boss, Arthur Petfield (later Sir Arthur Petfield).  These cards were obviously cherished by Sir Arthur, and his family too, as they remained in the custody of the family up until, in an act of great generosity, Sir Arthur’s son, Ross Petfield, lodged the cards with the State Library of Queensland to ensure their safe keeping into the future.

The collection, 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards depicts events in the career of Sir Arthur and the Company, as well as making references to some of his wider engagement with civic and social events of significance in Queensland’s history.

The collection of over 20 cards cover the years from 1948 to 1973 when Sir Arthur retired as Managing Director/Chairman of Queensland Can Company (QCC). Some of the cards are undated, and some cards may have been lost over the years. So, guesstimates have had to be made for several of the cards.

CARD 1

1948

The year Arthur Petfield is appointed General Manager.  The reference to 1930 represents Arthur Petfield’s commencement of employment although it was actually 1929 when he started work at QCC as a Junior Cost Clerk. The nick-name ‘Daddy Long Legs – was an expression of respect and great admiration – and was an obvious reference to his height.  I was a nick name that was to continue throughout his career at QCC. The artist for this card was Bob Bentley, head of the Art Dept of QCC.

1948 Queensland Can Company Christmas Card. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

1948 Queensland Can Company Christmas Card. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 2

Christmas 1957-58

This depicts the Petfield family on vacation – Mrs Petfield (Elsie), and three sons, Bruce (the eldest boy, age about 17, in the sketch top left) with his study books;  Ross, about age 13, and Meryl (bottom left sketch about 8), and the youngest boy, David (in the blue top bottom right sketch about 10).  The Art Department would be well aware by now that Arthur was a keen fisherman, and a dedicated family man. The family’s favourite holiday spot was Mooloolaba.

1948 Queensland Can Company Christmas Card. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 3

1958

Early January or February of the year Arthur Petfield suffered a serious health incident – a perforated ulcer. His hospitalisation spurred the Art Department to create this ‘Get Well’ greeting from the Company employees –a measure not only of concern for their ‘boss’ but an expression of affection.

Get Well greeting from the employees of Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 4

Christmas 1958

This was the year Arthur Petfield was appointed Managing Director and Chairman of QCC.  The Cover sketch depicts son Bruce (would be about 11) with his father’s ‘Chairman’s chair’. The family’s Christmas vacation is at the beach, especially where the fishing was good.  The interior sketch plays on Arthur’s name, to depict him as King Arthur. His ‘knights’ represent the Board members of QCC. From left to right, possibly James Grice (with crown seal on his head depicting his position with the company Cole & Grice, canmakers, which merged with QCC in 1921; possibly Alan Morrow of Arnott Morrows (joined the Board in 1949, and the 25 Year Club of QCC in 1974), possibly Eric Bale, company solicitor, and far right, Ben Krimmer of Darling Downs Co-Op (joined the Board in 1949). Alongside ‘King Arthur, acting as scribe, would have been the Company Secretary, Tom Buckle.

Note:  Ross Petfield recalls his father referred to James Grice as ‘Gricey’ and that he used to visit Gricey regularly after he retired.

This card, and all subsequent cards were the work of Robert (Bob) Greet. Dawn Burgarty (nee Morrison) of the Art Dept recalls every year Bob Greet taking time out to do Sir Arthur’s ‘card’.

1958 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 5

Christmas 1959

A charming family portrait with Arthur in the lead (age 39), Elsie with the picnic basket, Bruce (a young man, age 19), Ross (age 15), David (age 12) and Meryl (age 10) bringing up the rear. Their holiday destination – the North Coast Fishing area – would have been Mooloolaba which was the family’s usual holiday choice – and makes another reference to Arthur’s love of fishing.  The inside message reads: ‘Happy Days to Mr and Mrs Petfield – not forgetting the family.  From the Art Dept. 1959’.

1959 Queensland Can Company Christmas Card. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 6

1960

A significant year with a royal baby being born (as the card makes reference to), it was also a significant year for QCC with a Vice Regal visit by the then Governor, Colonel the Honourable Sir Henry Abel Smith KCMG KCVO DSO. The reference to ‘Sir Arthur” seems a prescient comment as his knighthood was yet to come in 1968. By this date QCC had factory operations at West End and Moorooka.

1960 Governor vist to the Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

1960 Governor visit to the Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 7

1960

At this time J.Gadsden Australia Ltd – an opposition company with headquarters in Melbourne but also with operations around the nation - was negotiating for a joint operation with Sydney company, W E Smith Engineering Co Pty Ltd, to construct two factories in Brisbane - one for carton production and the other to manufacture bags and cans. The deal was sealed in 1959 but by 1960 was not going smoothly. The cartoon showing Gadsdens ‘on the rocks’ and Smith’s in disarray whilst QCC goes on calmly winning the business with good ‘bait’, ie. service,  quality and price and the message warns of the danger of trading in someone else’s area.

1960 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

1960 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 8

Christmas 1961

This was an important year for QCC’s expansion when the Company acquired/merged with the Victorian-based company owned by A & G Anson, Paper & Board Industries.  That company had Fibreboard factories in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. This, together with the North Queensland can making operation, Northern Manufacturers in Townsville, which had been acquired in 1956,  gave QCC national and expanded Queensland coverage in terms of both production and markets – truly giving QCC ‘longer legs’. 

1961 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 9

Christmas 1962

QCC moving up in the world with the acquisition of a light aircraft.  This was a ‘year of travel’ for Arthur Petfield – as the card’s message comments and the text alludes to the Company’s expansionary drive at this period.

1962 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 10

Christmas 1963

 Arthur Petfield’s business leadership was recognised with his appointment to the Board of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC). The OTC had been established in 1946 to take responsibility for all international telecommunications services into, through and out of Australia. To undertake this role, the OTC had facilities around Australia. For further information on the OTC under Sir Arthur’s leadership, especially when he was appointed as Chairman of the Commission (1968-74), see Sir Arthur Petfield and the World Shrinkers.

1963 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 11

Christmas 1964

Baybird was Arthur Petfield’s bay cruiser.  Here, under the leadership of ‘’Captain’ Arthur, are the various Queensland operations of QCC. The sailor at the stern represents Moorooka, starboard side are Rocklea and Tennyson, in the bridge is West End, and the sailor painting the funnel represents Cardboard Can & Tube (a company that had recently joined the QCC stable). Portside, the officer with the golf clubs, may be Geoff Townson, a QCC executive acting as assistant to Arthur Petfield and also a keen golfer. The figure emerging from below would be Les Hoops, a mechanic at the Moorooka factory who also acted as the mechanic for Baybird being a qualified Marine engineer. Floating around Bay Bird, XXXX cans represent the importance of the Castlemaine Brewery account to QCC.  Or maybe there was a production problem with the XXXX cans that year! 

Baybird, a 48 ft timber bay cruiser, twin screw diesel, was originally built for Arthur Hudson. Company clients were regularly entertained on board. Today it can still be seen on Moreton Bay.

1964 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 12

Christmas 1965

This card references Arthur Petfield’s civic involvement.  In this year he sat on a Parliament of Queensland Committee of Inquiry into the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament, chaired by C.G.A. Done.  Arthur Petfield is the centre figure on the Tribunal table. The third member of the Tribunal was N W Savage.

1965 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 13

Christmas 1966

With capacity at the Moorooka  factory reaching ‘saturation point’ it was decided to construct a new Fibreboard factory at Ashover Road, Rocklea (alongside the existing Open top operation), and planning for the new factory and ordering a new corrugator was under way throughout 1966. The anticipation was evident not only among the executives but also the Moorooka staff.  An Open Top Can factory had already been built on the Rocklea land and the addition of a Fibreboard factory and Administration building would complete the QCC complex at Rocklea.

1966 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 14

Christmas 1967

This was a momentous year for the Company with the opening of the new Fibreboard factory at Rocklea, and a name change that brought all the QCC operations under the one new name, United Packages Ltd., i.e. United Packages (SQ), United Packages (NQ), United Packages (CQ), United Packages (Vic), United Packages (Murray Valley) and United Packages (WA). The small figure running to catch up with the band represents Vinlon, a manufacturer of polypropylene roofing material. That company was acquired in this year.

1967 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

1967 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 15

1968 

Not a Christmas Card but a Congratulatory Card. If 1967 was a momentous year for QCC/United Packages, 1968 was a momentous year for Arthur Petfield when he was awarded a knighthood.  The newly appointed Knight Bachelor is shown with his ‘men’, the members of United Packages Board.  Left to right: Tom Buckle (Company Secretary). Clarrie Garnsworthy (Manager QCC Fibreboard), Alan Morrow, Lionel McCray (CEO, Queensland United Foods), Sir Arthur Petfield.  The ‘knights’ to the right of Sir Arthur: second from the right is Ron Krimmer (CEO, Darling Downs and the son of Ben Krimmer who had served on the QCC Board earlier) and one of the other two would be Andrew Anson of A & G Anson – the company acquired by QCC in 1961 and P E McClintock.

Read more about Sir Arthur's Knighthood in blog The making of a Knight.

Congratulatory Card for Sir Arthur Petfield's Knighthood. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 16

Christmas 1968

This card represents Sir Arthur’s involvement with the 3 Minute Council for Channel 7’s Spastic Appeal Telethon. Sir Arthur’s involvement with the Queensland Spastic Welfare League went back to 1964 and was to continue to the 1970s in various capacities but the 3 Minute Council Appeal was of special interest to Sir Arthur.  (The Spastic Welfare League is now the Cerebral Palsy League)

1968 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 17

1969

This card was a Welcome Home for Sir Arthur after an overseas trip. The Moon landing was the hot topic of the year and according to family memories, Sir Arthur was in New York at the time of the Moon landing, 20 July, 1969. The card also alludes to his role as Chairman of the OTC at this time and the importance of the OTC facilities to the moon landing.

Card to welcome Sir Arthur Petfield home after a trip to the United States. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Card to welcome Sir Arthur Petfield home after a trip to the United States. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 18

Christmas 1969

Arthur Petfield had been appointed a Commissioner of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission in 1963 (see Card 10) and in 1969 he was appointed Chairman of the Commission. The OTC had been involved in the Apollo moon program, the launch of Intelsat, and opening of various earth stations around Australia.  This card shows Sir Arthur with three of the Commissioners - Mr. Kerville, Mr Vartrick, and Mr Jones.

1969 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 19

Christmas 1970

In December 1970, the Queensland Government appointed an Interim Council to advise it on the establishment of a new university – Griffith University.  Sir Arthur, as a Company Director, was appointed as a member of the Council. Other members were: Mr T C Bray CBE (Chairman); Mr L W H Butts CBE, Solicitor (Vice Chairman); Mrs G M Budtz-Olsen, Principal, Women’s College, University of Queensland; Professor W J Campbell, Professor of Education, University of Queensland; Mr N M Gow, Company director; Professor S Lipton, Professor of Statistics, University of Queensland; Professor P Mason,  Professor of Physics, Macquarie University; Professor C F Presley, Professor of Philosophy, University of Queensland; Professor G E Roberts; Professor of Architecture, University of Queensland; Mr S Schubert, Chief Engineer, Dept of the Co-ordinator General of Public Works; Mr J A Sewell, Auditor General for Queensland; Mr W Wood, Chairman, Board of Advanced Education, Queensland.

Here Sir Arthur is handing out ‘degrees’ in packaging to his Company staff. We might be able to put names to some of the UPL ‘graduants’: Fiddler of Fibreboard – Bruce Petfield -Moorooka Fibreboard Manage; Tutor in Tinplate – Colin Bampton, Manager, South Queensland Tinplate Division; Professor of Plastics –Bill Neale, Manager, Plastics Division; Creator of Cartons [Gordon Quick, Jock Dingley. Phil Maltby??]. The figure in the left hand corner is Sam Good, Caretaker, 25 year club member, approx 40 years with Queensland Can Company. 

1970 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 20

Christmas 1971

The winner of the Miss Queensland Quest 1971 was Miss Gay Walker who then went on to become Miss Australia 1972. However, one of the contestants in the 1971 Quest was Meryl Petfield (anecdotally, she was runner up to Gay Walker who went on to become Miss Australia). The Miss Australia and Miss Queensland pageants were operated by the Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland, at that period operating under the name of the Queensland Spastic Welfare League. This was an organisation with which Sir Arthur was heavily involved, acting as Chairman of the 3 Minute Spastic Appeal as well as acting in other capacities to support the Spastic League – see Card 16. 1968.

1971 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 21

Christmas 1972

When Don Burrows was setting up his Jazz Quartet, Sir Arthur provided some support in the form of financing an overseas trip for the Quartet and this card marks that relationship. The Quartet had won an Arts Grant to attend overseas jazz festivals but the group did not have the financial resources to enable members to take advantage of the opportunity so Sir Arthur stepped in because he ‘respected people who did things, including musical things’ (Courier Mail 12/5/1972). Members of Don’s Jazz Quartet: Ed Gaston (double bass), George Golla (guitar), Alan Turnbull (drums) with Don Borrows (clarinet), are joined here by Sir Arthur as the ‘bathroom baritone’.

1972 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

CARD 22

Christmas 1973

This shows Sir Arthur leaving United Packages and retiring to take up one of his favourite pastimes – fishing. Sir Arthur stepped down as Managing Director at the Company’s Annual General Meeting on 13 December, 1973. The inscription for the card reads simply ‘May the coming year bring to you and yours joy, good health and all the good things of life’. Although he stepped down as Managing Director, he did stay on as Chairman until his sudden and unexpected death, 30 October, 1974. The tribute to Sir Arthur in the Company newsletter reported his death with the headline ‘A Boss with a Heart of Gold’.

1973 Christmas Card Queensland Can Company. 33262 Sir Arthur Petfield greeting cards, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Conclusion

The artist who created the cards (except Card 1) was a member of the QCC/United Packages Art Department. Robert Greet, and many of the cards carry the signatures of Robert and other members of the Art Department.

The collection of cards record not only the career of Sir Arthur Petfield, but also key events in the life of Queensland Can Company. The cards also connect Sir Arthur with aspects of Queensland’s cultural, social and political history. The cards tell us about Sir Arthur;  they reveal a man who was respected and admired, but also one who would accept the humour and deep affection that these cards reveal in a subtle and  deeply moving way, a strong connection that numerous ex-workers have expressed as a sense of family that existed when you worked at QCC. 

The gift of the cards from the Petfield family to the State Library of Queensland is most generous and will form a valuable record of Sir Arthur’s  career as a leading figure in Queensland’s industrial and public history.

Dr Robin Trotter

The Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame is an initiative of QUT Business School, State Library of Queensland and the Queensland Library Foundation.

 

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