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The Ernest Hermann Collection

 Ernest Hermann

The Hermann collection is partially housed in the Casino Folk Museum. The mineral collection is on permanent  loan to the Southern Cross University, Lismore. Below you can read about how the society came about this collection and how the size was dramatically reduced over many years. The story is told with articles extracted from the Richmond River Express newspaper and the society's newsletter "The Bulletin".

    History of the Collection

Richmond River Express    Wednesday, June 25, 1941



 Collection of Specimens

What might be termed the nucleus of a museum for Casino is contained in a rare collection of Australian mineral specimens, sea shells and native curios presented to the Casino School of Arts. The donor is a native of  Casino. Mr. E. Hermann, who, now in his 82nd year, is resident at North Sydney. He left Casino with his parents when 6 years of age. Some 30 years ago he entered upon his hobby as a collector of specimens and antiques, and in the years since has traveled some thousands of miles in adding to it. His quest for specimens has taken him into each of the Australian capital cities excepting Perth. He has toured Queensland and parts of the Northern Territory and New Zealand. With the exception of a small collection of fossils obtained from Miss Oakes, of Lane Cove, Sydney, all his exhibits were gathered singly by his own effort.  So comprehensive is the display, and so thoroughly has Mr. Hermann catalogued it all, with a number name and origin to every large and little piece, that it has taken him three weeks to arrange it. The collection of minerals and shells is displayed in a series of glass covered cases along the eastern and southern walls of the reading room, and above them is arranged the collection of native curios. Australia's richness in its mineral resources is well evidenced in Mr. Hermann's collection. There are 600 mineral specimens, practically all Australian. Of some minerals of course, there are a variety of samples, but Mr. Hermann knows of no Australian mineral product not represented in this collection. Another small glass case contains 100 specimens of European minerals. This collection includes four tribolites, which are reputed as the oldest type of fossils.
Neatly ticketed in a glass case is a collection of three dozen samples of Queensland timbers supplied by the Forestry Department of that State. In another collection is a fine range of miscellaneous specimens. This case shows two glass phials containing small samples of every product of the Broken Hill and Mt. Morgan mines.  Other exhibits are a variety of stones, agates, garnets, and countless others. Here also are arrow heads of flint and glass. A whale tooth resembles a cow's horn. From and island off New Guinea is shown a pearl shell with a cluster developing. 


The wondrous colours cast up by the sea are evidenced in a wide range collection of sea shells.  Countless specimens are exhibited - alI gathered by Mr. Hermann himself and mostly from along the Northern Queensland beaches.  This collection might have been bigger but for the fact that some time ago Mr. Hermann disposed of the greater part of his shells collection to the famous novelist Zane Grey. The large double case contains several specimens of coral in varied colours. Rare exhibits are of two dried sea horses, each about a foot in length which Mr. Hermann had picked up when they were alive. A unique water worn blue stone is strikingly marked in resemblance  to Mt. Vesuvius in eruption. In the Hermann family the cult for antique souverning rests not alone with Casino's donor, for a brother Mr. H. W. Hermann, formerly of Lismore has a fine collection in Brisbane.


The exhibition of native curios was gathered by Mr. Hermann mainly from the tribes of New Guinea.  A chief's spear of the Sepik River tribe is reputed to be 300 years old and of great antique value. Bows, arrows and spears are of the Arafunda River (N.Z.) tribe, and of the Myreeba tribe of Northern Territory. One poisoned arrow pointed with a human bone, comes from Dutch New Guinea. Nearly 200 war, lashing and game spears are arranged in form of a fan. On the opposite wall is arranged native battle axes, clubs,  spears, wands,  dusters, a chief's mat, and a pair of native water bottles made from coconuts. Not the least unique are two specimens of German cat-o-nine tails as used on the New Guinea blacks. One has eight and the other nine strands of knotted whipcord. Art in native husbandry is displayed in a Tappa cloth weaved, or rather beaten out from the bark of the papier mulberry tree. The cloth was finely        stenciled. Three other interesting exhibits are of a native woman's grass skirt, a hawk bill tortise shell and a green turtle shell.

At Thursday night's meeting of the School of Arts Committee, the opportunity was taken by the president, Mr. D. J. Byrnes, to express on behalf of the committee and members appreciation of Mr. Hermann's wonderful donation to the institution. It was splendid of him not to forget his native town. They would be proud to have something very uncommon to show visitors to the town - a display probably unequalled  in Australia. Mr. Hermann said he would like to feel that the collection would be a credit to Casino, and he was pleased to have such a gift to make to his native town. He knew it would be appreciated.

Newspaper article ends here...................

                                              CASINO HISTORICAL SOCIETY

                                                   "BULLETIN" ARTICLES

Vol 7 No 6 August 1972 pp 5-7

In 1940 Mr. Hermann presented to Casino a fine collection of native artifacts, shells and minerals it being a duplicate collection to one he had sold to Zane Grey for 1000 in 1937. As Casino had no museum at this time, the collection was handed to the Casino School of Arts for safe keeping. The display which was all beautifully set in glass cases was placed in the hall at the School of Arts, and was known as the "Earnest Hermann Museum." When the Casino and District Historical Society was formed in 1966 a request was made to the School of Arts ,Committee for what remained of the collection, for over the years lack of care and petty thieving had reduced the contents of the museum to very few articles, indeed no shells were left at all. In our museum we now have  the beautifully mounted collection of spears used in hunting by the natives, a number of artifacts from Australia's far north and Thursday Island, also a collection of minerals. Readers will probably wonder why this collection was given to Casino. The collecting and mounting of the articles was the work of Mr. Earnest Hermann, a man greatly esteemed for his great ability, versatility and industry. Born at Casino on 5th March,1860, he was the eldest son of Charles and Harriet Hermann. Most of his life was spent in Lismore, in fact, he grew up with the town and probably knew more of its history than any other person.  At the age of 15 years, a year before the "Northern Star" was born and four years before Lismore's municipality was formed he was apprenticed to the late J.S. Hunt, Saddler of Lismore. In 1882 Mr.Hermann married Miss J.Mitchell a daughter of Mr.Thomas Mitchell, Commander of the "Sabroon" training ship, Sydney.  One of his sisters married a former mayor of Lismore, William Lockett, another married Ben Jackson who for many years kept a boatshed and hired out rowing boats in the Coleman's Pt. area. In Lismore he qualified as an apathecary under Dr. Josiah Wesley Walker, M.R.C.S. In 1882 he opened a business at Tumbulgum and acted as dispenser to the first settled doctor on the Tweed River, Dr. Sullivan. After 10 years there as saddler and dispenser he opened a business at Byron Bay at a time when the Lismore to Tweed railway was being built 1891-1894. Some years later he returned to Lismore and built a home in what is now  O'Flynn Street. Here he followed the trade of carpenter, bricklayer and plumber, being proficient in each trade. Later he acquired allotments of Crown land at East Ballina and built several houses facing the road to the lighthouse. He resided in one and turned part of it into a museum. I saw his collection here on several occasions and it was a delight to watch him polishing the very ordinary looking stone he found at East Ballina and turning them into things of beauty. Mr. Hermann devoted himself to the study of conchology and mineralogy.  He made numerous trips to the Barrier Reef and Thursday Island and adjacent islands collecting shells and minerals in association with Mr. Allan Riverstone McCulloch, one of the foremost systematic zoologists of the time, whose reputation was world wide. On retiring from Ballina Mr.Hermann made his home with his eldest daughter in Sydney. He retained his faculties right up to his death in November, 1946.

Volume 14 No 2 April 1980 p 6

For a number of years we have had this collection stored away at our museum, despite efforts to get its contents classified. Following a request and visit from officers of the College of Advanced Education, it was resolved that this collection be loaned to the college to be suitably housed and displayed and insured at Wollongbar and when the project is completed the display to be officially opened by a representitive of our society.

Volume 15 No 2 April 1981 p 6

The Hermann Collection of Minerals which was loaned to the NRCAE to be classified and suitably housed, we have now been informed it will be placed in the new buildings of the college which have just been commenced and for the present will remain at the college property at Wollongbar.

Volume 21 No 2 May 1986 p 7

Our collection of Minerals, received as "The Hermann Collection" in 1939, marking the Centenary of Casino has been loaned to the NRCAE to be classified and arranged for show at the college, we await advice of the Official Display to be arranged.