Water Cart Ends

To view a larger image of the water cart ends click on the actual image.

The one product of J. Furphy & Sons that is known everywhere is the water cart. For many Australians it has come to symbolise a rural past of simple moral values and individual enterprise. In particular, the idiosyncratic inscriptions on the cast ends have become an object of ever increasing interest.

It appears that the very first model of the first water cart did not have any inscription on the tank end, but it is certain that all the succeeding models did. This schedule indicates the major changes to the moulds, as far is known.

1. Before 1895 the tank ends carried only the word 'Furphy' or the manufacturer's mark (which changed when John Furphy took his sons into partnership in 1893).

Tank1b-small

Tank1a-small

tank1c-small

1880's 1880's - 1893 1893 - 1895

2. From 1895 when Furphy's Farm Water Cart was first marketed, the tank ends carried a list of Furphy products. In the first version the lettering was indented, and the 'Good better best' verse did not appear; in all subsequent versions the lettering was raised and the verse appeared.

tank2a-small

tank2b-small

1895 - 1898
(Indented Writing)
1898 - 1920

3. From 1920 the list of products changed and a Pitman's shorthand inscription appeared. The translation read "Water is a gift from God, but beer is a concoction of the Devil, don't drink beer".

tank3a-small tank3b-small
1920 - 1930 1930 - 1942

4. From 1942 the list of products changed, and a modified version of the original Pitman's shorthand was also added and read "Water is the gift of God but beer and whiskey are concoctions of the Devil, come and have a drink of water". A drawing of a stork with baby, appeared with a shorthand message reading "Produce and populate or perish".

tank4a-small
1942 - 1965

5. From 1965 the list of products was reduced to two items.

tank4b-small
1965 - 1975

6. From 1975 until regular production of water carts ceased at the end of 1983 the list of products was replaced by the firm's logo and a map of Australia.

tank5a-small
1975 - 1983

Note: In addition to the standard production (and subtle variations thereof), there have been a number of 'limited' edition cast ends commemorating special events.

For further reading regarding the history of Furphys, please refer to our recently released book "Made in Shepparton" available here or click here to contact us.