Glenn Cooke Collection of Souvenir Queensland Tea Towels

A collection of tea towels may not seem very exciting, but to a collector it can be very meaningful. Some travelers like to keep a detailed diary or journal of the places they visit, while others purchase souvenirs such as a tea towels to remind them where they have been. It can also become an obsession; hunting down these beautifully designed textiles that paint a vivid picture of tourism over many years. The State Library of Queensland has recently acquired a wonderful collection of vintage Queensland souvenir tea towels, tablecloths and other miscellaneous items that are available as part of the original materials collection, on level 4 of the State Library.


The collection comprises 800 tea towels, depicting various places throughout Queensland, including Cairns, Charters Towers, the Gold Coast, Far North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, to name just a few. The beauty and colour of the graphics – from stunning floral designs to kitsch animal ones and everything in between – makes this a truly unique and fascinating collection that should be seen.

Janette Garrad – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland


Posted in Collections | Tagged , , Jo Browse John Oxley Library
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  1. Hi Janette, The Glenn Cooke collection sounds amazing. I am working on a book of Australian vintage CALENDAR tea towels. Does your collection include calendar tea towels?
    What period does this collection span? Did the collector from whom you acquired the towels provide you with detailed notes of when he collected the items?
    I am looking forward to your reply. Best

    • Thank you for your inquiry about the Glenn Cooke collection of tea towels. This collection is predominantly about tourism advertising, focusing on fauna and flora as well as attractions and holiday destinations. There is however one calendar which is a centenary celebration for the Allgas company 1885 – 1985 (the calendar is for 1985)

      Title: 28634 Glenn Cooke Souvenir Tea Towel Collection 1970- 2012
      Scope and content: The collection comprises 800 items, mostly tea towels depicting various places throughout Queensland, with a particular emphasis on Queensland tourism related places or sites. Within this focus, Australia and Queensland’s two main tourist destinations, the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef, are strongly represented. The collection also includes some tablecloths and head scarves.
      Box 17219 O/S: Guide to the collection by topic and subject and items 1-99; Box 17220 O/S items 100-199; Box 17221 O/S items 200-299; Box 17222 O/S items 300-399; Box 17223 O/S items 400-499; Box 17224 O/S items 500-599; Box 17225 O/S items 600-699; Box 17226 O/S items 700-800.

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