As my grandfather was Swiss, there was an obvious interest in the Universal Postal Union Monument at Bern, Swiutzerland. And being a sculptor, from Bern, Hans Christen took some pride in the monument.
The bronze and granite staue standing some ten metres high and forty metres wide commemorates the founding of the Univerasal Postal Union's founding in 1874. The work of French sculptor Rene de Saint-Marceau, a member of the Paris Academie des Beaux-arts, was unveiled on 4 October 1909. He was chosen to execute the work following an international competition organisezed by the Swiss Government on the theme, 'Around the World'. The sculpture embodies the UPU's truly universal mission, depicting five messangers depicting the five continents, as they pass letters around the globe.
|Hans 'Pop' Christen
was a top chef who migrated to Australia in the mid 1930s, initially to
Sydney but within months moved to Melbourne where he settled until his
death in September 1976. Pop was a marvellous banquet chef, whose
carvings in butter fat were renowned. I lived with Pop and Nan for most
of my young years.He had retired by the time I came to live with him in
1950. He was also a superb sculptor, but even this he had given up by the
time I arrived, so I never had the opportunity to see him work in his home
studio in Park Street, North Carlton. I do however recall seeing his many
staues lining the walls, the largest being a ten foot long, by three feet
high replica of the Universal Postal Union statue in his home town of Berne.
It was, of course, meaningless to me in those early days, as were most
of his statues.
The above photograph, and
the one to the right, were taken at his rented home in Royal Parade, Parkville,
prior to his moving to his own residence in nearby Park Street. The date
is not known but it is certainly before 16 July 1938 when the Sun News
Pictorial article was published.
In the early 1970s there
was communication between Pop and the Australian Post Office, which led
Pop donating the statue to Australia Post. At the time Australia Post had
a musuem, in Fitzroy I believe, so it probably went there. In 2005 I contacted
Australia Post and asked where it was. They had no idea. It has probably
long been destroyed.
|In 1953 I visited Europe as a ten year old, with Nan, and my father and mother and new-born sister Stephanie. Needless to say, we visited the monument. Here we have the three generations: Nan Christen, her daughter Mina (my mother), holding her baby daughter Stephanie, just a few months old. And me, as a snappily dressed ten-year-old.|
of the seated figure is intriguing. I contacted the UPU in Bern, and from
their UPU magazine Union Postale No. 11 dated November 1909, they advised
that, "To symbolize the city of Berne, the artist included a noble
and majestic female figure, her outstretched arm cradling the city shield."
One may wonder why such a ‘noble and majestic figure' needs to have a bare breast!.
These postcards, and the ones above, are from Pop's correspondence collection.
The date of the postal cancellation
on the postcard below (with the red stamp) is 24 January 1910. The back
of this postcard has been addressed to Herr H.Christen, II Koch, Dampfer
"Konging Suise", Norddeutscher Lloyd.
The date of the postcard at bottom right is 1914.