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Home > Media > News > HERITAGE TREASURES

The major French church requisites company Louis Gille & Cie, Lyon, founded in 1878, developed a particularly flourishing export trade to Australia. It was in business until 1936. By 1890 it was already advertising in the Australasian Catholic Directory as the Australian General Catholic Depot, Louis Gille & Co., based at 75 Liverpool St, Sydney. It would open an outlet at 300–302 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, not long after, and continued to advertise in the Australasian Catholic Directory until 1935, one year before the firm ceased operation. Gille did a huge amount of business with Australian clergy. This trade was made all the more attractive through its Australian catalogue, a 428-page fully-indexed blockbuster complete with simple instructions for the clergy on ordering and remitting via Post Office Order or cheque. Gille stressed: ‘We scarcely need to add that our Australian General Catholic Depot offers to the Clergy, Religious Institutions and Catholic Public the most extensive selection in the Southern Hemisphere. Our Firm being an exclusively Catholic House, owned and managed by Catholics, our customers can, also, absolutely rely upon procuring articles of Devotion, Books and Literature of the approved Catholic style only. Lastly, as we manufacture ourselves most of the goods commended to their kind attention and sell them without the intervention and ensuing profits of any middleman, our prices will be found the very lowest possible ones.’

Gille produced a huge range of devotional items, from painted and unpainted statues in terracotta, plaster and ‘art metal’ through to a great variety of lamps suitable for burning before them. A precious survivor of such lamps is a ‘jewelled’ standing sanctuary lamp, a rare item believed to be the only one in the Archdiocese. Listed in the 1905 Gille catalogue as ‘No. 3054A.— JEWELLED STANDING LAMP, with “I.H.S.” engraved on Red Ruby Glass, electro-plated reflector at back; height 7½ inches; gold-varnished brass stand’, it was priced at eight shillings and six pence. Behind the jewelled glass was a small container for oil, backed by a reflector. A light burning in the oil lit up the faceted glass ‘jewels’ and the ruby flashed glass etched with the Sacred Monogram IHS.