There was a time when every piece of furniture in Western Australia had a racist stamp on it. Every. Single. Piece. From 1900 to the 1960s all furniture had to declare whether it had been made purely by good honest white workers, or had been sullied by being touched by people from South East Asia.
Seriously. It was either stamped ‘European labour only’ or ‘Asiatic labour’.
Chinese craftsmen were well-known for producing quality pieces at lower prices than the white-only factories could. So the unions objected and—thank you, White Australia policy—the government passed laws to make sure buyers knew which race had produced them.
Some union leaders went further and demanded furniture factories should have glass fronts so customers could check the place wasn’t secretly employing people from South East Asia.
One of the worst local retailers who cashed in on the racism of their customers was Boans. They regularly advertised that they would only make and sell furniture without Asian employees. Which, in Boans’ opinion, meant their chairs and tables were superior.
It has always been the policy of Boans to employ European labour only in their factory, which means that the highest possible workmanship is put into every piece of furniture produced.
Unfortunately for bigoted retailers and manufacturers, some members of the public weirdly preferred the same items but at less cost. There’s no accounting for some people’s lack of racial pride.
If you want to see a piece of racist furniture in action, visit Belmont Museum and ask to have a look under their kitchen table. It’s shocking, but definitely worth a look.