Fundraising during the First World War - Mascot Day and Golden Fleece Day
Fundraising in the Queensland and Australian communities was a common activity during the First World War, with a wide range of individuals and groups undertaking various activities to support those serving in the war. A dedicated and appropriately named day was often set aside as a focus for these fundraising activities, as was the case with Mascot Day and Golden Fleece Day. There were many other such fundraising days during the years of the First World War and they were all quite similar in terms of their goal of raising money as well as the types of activities involved.
Mascot Day was an initiative of the Brisbane Girls’ Club, with its aim being the raising of funds for the Australian Army Mining and Engineering Corps. The first Mascot Day appears to have been held on 21 July 1916 and was widely promoted and published across Queensland. For instance, on 4 July 1916, the Brisbane Courier reported, “…the members of the Brisbane Girls’ Club do not allow the grass to grow under their feet and to their many patriotic ventures they now propose, in conjunction with the Mining and Engineers Comfort Fund to hold a Mascot Day, in aid of the boys on active service”. Fundraising was coordinated across Queensland and the newspapers of the day give many examples of Mascot Day fundraising stalls in various Brisbane and country locations.
The sale of badges was a popular way to raise funds and was used by many of these groups. In the case of Mascot Day “Teddy” badges, featuring a Koala Bear, were widely distributed and sold, with some of these badges also used as a means of entering raffles or lotteries. This was achieved by individual badges being numbered, entering the purchaser into a prize competition. As well, in 1916, a donation of twenty farthing coins were used as a special fundraising initiative for Mascot Day. These coins were mounted in gold in the form of a brooch and engraved with the words “Mascot Day – 1916”. Newspaper reports at the time show that these Mascot Day badges were offered for sale at £1/1-.
Golden Fleece Day was a similar initiative, established by the Brisbane Wool Spinning Guild, with its First World War fundraising efforts supporting the Guild as well as the 25th Battalion Comforts Fund. The first Golden Fleece Day was held on 16 June 1916 with various stalls and street collections across Brisbane and at other places throughout Queensland. As well, the Guild acquired wool which it then sold at a reduced price at its stalls, with the Brisbane Courier reporting during June 1916 that this less expensive wool would “…make it accessible to those who are desirous of knitting socks for the soldiers”. Small Golden Fleece Day souvenir cards were also sold, with one bearing the following verse,
“I am a happy little lamb
Now I will tell you why I am
I’m luckier than the lamb that’s killed
As I grow wool for the spinning guild
The 25th I also aid
As comforts from my wool are made
They badly need the things you knit
Now don’t you think I’ve done my bit”
A small badge in the shape of a lamb tied with the colours of the 25th Battalion was also produced and widely sold at the various Golden Fleece Day stalls.
These various fundraising activities continued throughout the years of the First World War and were well supported in the community. In addition to providing much needed funds and support, they enabled members of the Queensland and Australian communities to become more closely involved in the war effort.
Whilst undertaking the research for this short article, a search of various collecting institutions and other possible locations was undertaken, with the aim of locating an example of one of the Mascot Day gold farthing badges, mentioned above, however this search was unsuccessful. It is hoped that one of these brooches may survive in private hands and if so, we would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have one.
Brian Randall, Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland.