Percival Edgar Deane (1890–1946) was born in Melbourne and educated at University High School. In the few years after he left school, he became a Methodist lay preacher, learned shorthand, sold typewriters, was employed as a clerk at the University of Melbourne, worked with trade and business magazines, and founded the Australian Golfer. In 1914 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served in Egypt. He was invalided back to Australia and in November 1916 became private secretary to the Prime Minister, W.M. Hughes. He attended the Imperial War Conference in 1918 and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. In 1921 he became the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department. Following Hughes’ downfall, Deane retained the position under S.M. Bruce, but his fortunes faded after the move to Canberra in 1927. In 1929 he was transferred to the Department of Home Affairs. He retired from the Commonwealth Public Service in 1936 and spent his last years in Melbourne.
Deane was an unconventional official and he preferred the company of writers, artists and bohemians in Melbourne and Sydney to that of public servants in Canberra. He wrote verse and was a talented sketcher. He collected cartoons and caricatures of politicians and other public figures. His collection was later acquired by the painter Clifton Pugh (1924–1990).
The Percy Deane Collection was purchased from Clifton Pugh in 1978.
The collection consists of 70 original pencil, pen, ink, charcoal and wash caricatures and cartoons assembled by Percy Deane in the 1920s. It comprises works by Boz (two), Dennis Connelly (six), Tom Glover (21), Hal Gye (one), Livingston Hopkins (five), Harry Julius (one), David Low (27), Phil May (two), Syd Miller (one), Herbert Moore (one), A.S. Peterson (two) and Les F. Reynolds (one). The earliest works are by Phil May: a pencil drawing, Study of a Gentleman Sitting on a Chair (1893) and a pen and ink drawing, Jocular Briton (Leaving French Hotel). Another early work, by Livingston Hopkins, depicts George Reid and Alfred Deakin and is entitled Offering him Coalition Sausages.
Most of the drawings are caricatures of Federal parliamentarians from the period 1915–25, some of them obscure, others household names. Among the better known are Joseph Cook, James Fenton, Andrew Fisher, Littelton Groom, Henry Gullett, Walter Massey-Greene, G.A. Maxwell, Edward Millen, James Scullin, Bruce Smith, E.G. Theodore and Frank Tudor.
Other subjects of drawings include Sir James Elder, Walter Gale, Sir William MacGregor and Douglas Mawson, There is also a pen and ink drawing of Percy Deane by Tom Glover (1923).
The Percy Deane Collection is held in the Pictures Collection at PIC R8423-92. The drawings have been individually catalogued and the majority of them have been digitised.
S. Murray-Smith, Deane, Percival Edgar (1890–1946), Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.