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Pedestal #2001-1493Press Office, North Wing, Upper floor

Maple smoker’s pedestal of square section, on a stepped base and with a detachable copper top and metal liner.


This pedestal ashtray was designed in 1926 by the Architects Department of the Federal Capital Commission, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. This piece was built by one of the six firms (Myer Emporium Pty Ltd, Melbourne; Anthony Hordern and Sons, Sydney; A Pengelly and Co, Adelaide; W H Rocke and Co, Melbourne; Beard Watson & Co Ltd, Sydney; Bebarfalds Ltd, Sydney) that were contracted to construct Murdoch’s designs.

In the workplaces of the early twentieth century, when smoking was permitted in the workplace, ashtrays were an essential piece of office furniture. Peter Harvey, Seven News journalist said of working in the Press Gallery “It was incredibly overcrowded and back in those days everybody smoked like chimneys. Polluted, overcrowded, jam packed, a very intensive environment in the sense that everybody was on top of everybody else.”

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Statement of values

This pedestal is significant as a component of the Heritage collection, which comprises items which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the parliamentary process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the building, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The building is a primary example of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of architecture prominent in Canberra’s government architecture of the 1920s to 1940s. The characteristic expression of the building’s style is due to the design work of the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections, which include the purpose designed furniture and furnishings, that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices. This furniture is significant as it has remained within the building for which it was designed. The furniture collection is part of a rare, intact surviving record of heritage fabric comprising both furniture and documentation.


Width 205mm
Height 455mm
Depth 205mm
Medium Maple; timber; metal
Creator’s name Federal Capital Commission Architects Department
Date created 1926