A Tribute with a Twist

The Bank Manager's Farewell

This decorated certificate, along with a silver table-centerpiece known as an epergne, was presented to Carcoar’s Bank Manager, Mr John Phillips, at a farewell organised by the village’s residents in August 1893.

Printed tributes like this example were commonly gifted in this era, they acknowledged the community esteem felt for those who received them. The certificate not only tells us about Phillip’s time at Carcoar and the ways in which past communities honoured respectable residents, but illustrates one of the ways in which the craft of graphic design was employed at this time.

Before receiving the certificate Phillips had spent a year in Carcoar, working at its branch of the City Bank of Sydney. He had planned to leave village after accepting a promotion offered at the bank’s branch in Young.

Carcoar residents felt Phillips’ departure would be a great loss to the village. At this time, and in small communities like Carcoar, a good Bank Manager was esteemed. They had power and authority to give or decline cash or credit, and the bank kept safe a community’s savings and other valuable assets.

Phillips’ certificate was designed by the Sands company, a long-established printer and stationer in Sydney. Despite the certificate’s ornate appearance, it is plain compared with others of its kind. Its key design features include stylised text and a decorative border. It is beautifully coloured and gives a lengthy and glowing tribute to Phillips. Compared with other like-certificates from this time, these were often illustrated with small images, which typically depicted some aspects of the life of the person whom it was for.

Despite being farewelled by the community, Phillips did not make it to Young. The day before Phillips was due to leave Carcoar he was murdered during an attempted robbery at the bank.

The news of Phillips’ violent death was met with shock and fear in the community. Reminded of the terror caused by the bushrangers of earlier decades, the local people took to sleeping with loaded pistols under their pillows, even after the perpetrator was arrested.

But, as it turned out a former resident, ‘Bertie’ Glasson, had robbed the bank to pay his snowballing debts. He was executed on 20 November 1893 at the Bathurst gaol.