Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Letters to Herbert Basedow from David Unaipon re invention of shearing machine and promoting awareness of Aboriginal issues, 1909, 1914
MLMSS 161 Box 1, Folder 1
Commonwealth of Australia
Dated 3rd September, 1909
Entered in the Register of Patents
Vol. 10, Fol. 125
H. Richmond Pollard
Pro Commissioner of Patents
George the Fifth, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Sea, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India: To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting:
Whereas David Unaipon of Point McLeay, in the State of South Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Machinist,
Has pursuant to the Patents Act 1903-1909, made application for Letters Patent of an Invention for "Improved mechanical motion device" & has made a declaration in the prescribed form that he is the actual inventor thereof, and has by a complete specific action fully described and ascertained the Invention
Now therefore we do by these Letters Patent give a grant to the said David Unaipon (hereinafter called the Patentee) our special licence, full power, sole privilege, authority, that the said Patentee by himself, his agents, or licensees, & no others, may at all times hereafter during the term of years herein mentioned, make, use, exercise, and vend that said Invention within the Commonwealth of Australia in such manner as to him or them may seem meet, & that the said Patentee shall have & enjoy the whole profit & advantage from time to time accruing by reason of the said Invention during the term of fourteen years from the date hereunder written of these presents; Provided always that these Letters Patents are subject to the following conditions :-
(1) That these Letters Patent shall be void if it is made to appear that this grant is contrary to law, or is prejudicial or inconvenient to our subjects in general, or that the said Invention is now a new Invention, or that the Patentee is not the actual Inventor thereof; and
(2) That these Letters Patent shall cease and determine if the Patentee fails to pay the renewal fee hereunder set out on the date when it becomes due, or within such future time as may be allowed. And we do grant unto the Patentee that these Letters Patent shall be construed in the most
beneficial sense for the advantage of the Patentee. In Witness whereof we have caused these our Letters to be made patent this third day of September, One Thousand nine hundred and nine & to be sealed as of the third day of September, One thousand nine hundred & nine.
Seal of the Patent Office,
Commonwealth Of Australia
(Sgd.) Geo. Townsend
Commissioner of Patents
N.B. The Renewal Fee is £5 & is to be paid to the Commissioner of Patents on or before the third day of September 1916.
[Diagrams of shearing machine]
April 21 1914
Dr H. Basedow
I am an Australian aboriginal belong to the lower Murray and Lake Alexandria known as the Narringeri tribe: Born on the Point McLeay Mission Station.
The peculiarity of my birth was that being born between two great forces; Heathenism and Civilisation. I was educated under the teaching of Mr W. Hutley. I remember well some of the lessons he gave: This in particular, We are living in a wonderful age In which the world has made a wonderful progress in Commerce Science and Art what wonderful discoveries and inventions.
But he went on to say there are
three things that have baffled science up to the present.
The Elixir of Life the Philosopher's Stone and Perpetual Motion. He told us about the many attempts made to bring about perpetual motion but have failed. That has made a great impression upon my mind gave me an ambition to rise: I have experimented with gravation to try and bring about perpetual motion with the result I invented the lateral motion applied to sheep shearing machine. I am struggling for an independent living I want some gentleman who will help me through with my machine by advancing me £25.00 (twenty five pound) and I will give him one third interest when machine sold. I have an offer already for the sheep shearing machine providing I standardize it which I have already done. I want money to get back to Melbourne: I may state here that
I have had my invention patented for the Commonwhealth:
Improved Mechanic Motion Device
It can be indifinetly applied to other [part?] in machinery.
May 30th 1914
CHIEF PROTECTOR ABORIGINALS,
(TELEPHONE No. 774)
Mr David Unaipon
The Hon. Commisisoner of Public Works has approved of the sum of five pounds (£5) being given to you towards applying your patent to shearing machines on condition that you raise the balance.
NG South C.P.A.
This will be paid you on or about 10th June next.
Please deliver this sum of five pounds (£5.00) to Dr Basedow when it falls due to me.
June 7, 1914
C/0 Mr Howie
Do all you can for the success of my Patent and when you have formed a Syndicate let me know.
Dr H Basedow
I shall be leaving for Melbourne next week. Mr Howie my host wrote to Dr Paton of Melbourne telling him of my intention re sheep shearing machine; to protect and advise me as to the best course I shall take. I shall go direct to Mr Park and have the sheep-shearing machine completed; I hope you will have someone or a syndicate to support me whilst I am doing I can to make machine a success. Twenty pounds (£20.) will do it.
C/o Mr Howie
Dr H. Basedow
I should like to know when the British Association of Science arrives in Adelaide. I should like to meet them when they visit my people. Let me know by letter or wire.
Dr H Basedow
I am still doing all that's possible to win the interest of the people in Victoria in the Australian Aborigines. I am sure that I have their sympathy. And that when the time comes when you shall have the opportunity of visiting Victoria on the mission for the preservation of the Australian Aborigines you will have their support.
I am still hoping to have the Sheeping Shearing machine sold. The Dalgety Firm are interesting themselves in it. I shall inform you of my success or failure. Give my respect to Mrs & Misses Basedow.
Dr H. Basedow
I have placed the sheep-shearing machine into the hands of Mr Park and I am going to submit other plans re doing away with crank shaft.
Mr Park will be writing you in a few days. Now Doctor I want you to do all you can to help me either in floating a syndicate or getting a private gentleman to help me to the extent of £20-00 twenty pounds. Mr Park and Son's are going to do all in their power to make my inventions a success
C/0 Mr Ebb
I am unable to be in Adelaide until next Monday. I am doing the standardizing machine.
Mental Capacity of Aborigines
It as becomes a universal opinion that the Australian aborigines are the lowest type of race among the
race human race of the world children of man.
I am glad to know that, that opinion is gradually disappearing and that the race to which I belong is proving beyond
the a doubt that such is not the case. When you consider that there is people There is no ground for such an opinion; It is true that the Aborigines have not shown the same intelligence as other race's they have not built houses or cultivated gone into agricultural pursuits or domesticated animal's for their service: they have won wandered into Australia and found all they required
ready hills valley's with running brooks provided them shelter. Kangaroo's Opossum Emu [ undecipherable] and fish in the rivers and wild Fowl was their food and herd's as food and there were herbs for medicinal use. These things were easily obtained. There was nothing in any shape of form to induce them to develop. So that the my race have lived contented with or according) to their enviorment. For these centuries Hence You may have noticed that they have developed the keenest of sight and smell in hunting; that's all that was required. Hence they lived more to the biblical teaching Take no thought for the morrow. Now That inducement that which have caused the European to rise from the state in which they were [indecipherable] centuries is and was [indecipherable] not Know was unknown to the aborigines. But now we are gradually being brought into touch with civilisation; We are beginning to adapt the mood of living like the [continued after next page]
Enviornment can change the
form the life an aboriginal the he in lifetime though he in inherits the tendency (of his fore father) of thousand year.
European; The tribe
that to which I belong is very much in touch with civilisation. Then you will see that our enviorment has disappearing; Which makes the enviorment to which we were
Now to prove whether an aboriginal boy or girl has the same brain power has the European. I say place him in the same enviorment as a European;
and he will show the in Enviorment is everything. I mean
an who Come a pure good eve an enviorment that will develop. There are many people who say that you cannot change habits or lives of an aboriginal; They all say that you cannot change all that which is within him because he inherits that easy going life of his four father. I say with confidence; and which I know to be a scientific fact; That place a child of an aboriginal who have had a little schooling into a high school ing give him the same chance treat him kindly and you will witness a wonderful change.
If there is anything that will
cah change the law of heredity It is the subtle force of enviorment.
There our duty lies not only feeding them or clothing them or contributing to their temporary support when other calamitye overtake them. A much greater duty is when they are led to a more elevated plane of thought by ideal which stimulate to self development.
Dr H Basedow
At your request I have the honour in replying to a letter you have received from the World Conferences for promoting concord between all divisions of mankind.
It has become a universal opinion that the Australian Aborigines are the lowest type of race among the children of man.
I am glad to know that: that opinion is gradually disappearing, and that the race to which I belong is proving beyond a doubt. It is true that the aborigines have not shown the same intelligence like other race's. They have not build houses or gone into agricultural pursuits or domesticated animal's for their
service. They have wandered into Australia and found all they required, Forests hills valleys provided shelter. Kangaroos Opossums Emus fishes wild fowls provided them with food.
There was nothing in any shape or form to induce my forefathers to develop; So that we have lived contented with (or according to) the enviorment. You may have noticed that our people have developed the keenest of sight and smell in hunting, that was all that was required; Hence they lived more to the biblical teaching "Take no thought for the morrow". That inducement which have caused the Europeans to rise from the state in which they were
back centuries ago 'way back in the Stone Age was unknown to the aborigines. But now we gradually being brought into touch with civilisation. We are adopting the mood of living like the Europeans. The tribe to which I belong is very
much in touch with civilisation some of my people are living like the European: There are men today who will say that the aborigines can never rise above his own plane of living. Impossible to change the law of heredity. It will take years and generation to get them to the perfection of the
Earo European. Heredity is a great law.
But Enviorment is greater. Enviorment can change the tendency of an aboriginal in a life time though it be the inheritance of a thousand years; Bryant say "Our duty lies not only in feeding them of clothing them or contributing to their temporary support when other clamaties overtake them. But a much great duty is rendered them when they are led to a more elevated plane of thought by ideals which stimulate to self support or self development.
I may say here that I have quoted Bryant from his address on "The White Man's Burden"
You have my consent in sending this letter: to the World Conferences for promoting concord between all division of mankind.
ing for the interest you have taken in my people.
Your Humble Servant
To Dr H Basedow
I am with pleasure It gives the honour in replying At your request to the letter that you have received From the World conference for promoting concord between all division of mankind.
Dr H. Basedow
I am still doing deputation for the Church Missionary Association. I hope to be in Adelaide
soon in October. And I shall settle my accounts or the debt I own you (10/-).
In the meantime will you send those certificates that I gave you some time's ago. They shall be of help to me when I am giving a Lecture on the Aborigines. I hope Mrs & Misses Basedow are quite well give to them my respects.