The many stories of the Commercial Travellers Association

W.H. Ell's 'Safechek' sovereign changer c. 1907 Commercial Travellers' Association of Australia 1979.0162

W.H. Ell’s ‘Safechek’ sovereign changer c. 1907 Commercial Travellers’ Association of Australia 1979.0162

The Commercial Travellers Association of Australia (CTA) represents a professional organisation of otherwise previously unrepresented workers – a white collar union for travelling salesmen – that experienced a long decline as the economy evolved and steadily made them redundant. As such, the CTA’s interests were in providing services and supports to their membership such as insurance, supera

nnuation, educational opportunities, negotiating deals with hotels to support the commercial travellers’ work, providing display rooms for goods, a place for the commercial travellers to meet and socialise both together and with customers in the CTA Clubs.

It was initially a large and active body, conducting annual conferences and publishing a monthly magazine (The Australian Traveller), with an annual supplement (Australia Today). It had active branches in every State and especially prior to the Depression, was filled with that 19th Century ethos of civic duty and public good and the idea that the CTA was helping to create a bigger and better nation. After the Second WW, the economic changes occurring in Australia steadily began to wear the CTA down and much of the later years (60s-70s) were dominated by its declining finances and membership. Despite the problems of the later years, the CTA still tried to promote Australia and Australian achievements and never lost that pride in the nation building role that they saw for themselves.

The CTA collection, documents the rise and fall of the association over 100 years and includes the iconic original artwork of the flagship publication Australia Today by artists such as Norman Lindsay, Napier Waller, Lionel Lindsay and C Dudley Wood. The collection includes a rare sovereign changer. Once prolific in bars, and like establishments the ‘Safechek’ gold changer provided a canister of change in exchange for a sovereign or a half sovereign when it was inserted in the appropriate slot.

Contributor: Carl Temple

Source: Primary Sources: 50 Stories from 50 Years of Archives


Commercial Travellers Association


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