Early Image of Sydney

Augustus Earle (c.1790-c.1839) was the son of James Earle (1761-1796), an American artist. Following his father’s profession, the younger Earle exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy in 1806. He travelled around the world in the first half of the 19th century, visiting almost every continent. On one trip, his ship was marooned on the island of Tristan D’Acunha. He was taken off by another ship on its way to Tasmania, and arrived at Hobart on 18 January 1825. He stayed there for about nine months, then went to Sydney where he lived for about two years.

Earle did much painting in watercolours and obtained commissions for portraits from several of the leading colonists. In 1827 he sent a set of eight paintings of Sydney to London to be used for Robert Burford’s panorama of Sydney. In 1830 he published Views in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, Australian Scrap Book. The eight views were all of New South Wales subjects and are important early views of the growing colony of New South Wales. Earle died between 1838 and 1840.

Pictured is ‘Government House, and part of the town of Sydney’, from Augustus Earle, Views in New South Wales and Van Diemens Land: Australian Scrap Book, London: J. Cross, 1830, lithograph, printed in black ink, from one stone, 19.8 x 28.8 cm (printed image (trimmed)). Special Collections, University of Melbourne.

Special Stationery in Library Stairwell

In the late 19th to mid-20th century elaborate, decorative letterheads were used by large and small businesses alike to promote their business or products. A frieze made from a selection of letterheads in the University Archives is installed in the circular stairwell of the Baillieu Library. The frieze recalls schema for wall decoration in Victorian and Edwardian times and features plumbing, printing, undergarments, machinery, factories and a union, grocers, a fishmonger and biscuit makers, purveyors of household goods, musical instruments and bicycles from Melbourne and regional Victoria. Most of the businesses and their products are long gone, along with this style of letterhead. Selected for their visual appeal and reproduced in an unexpected format, the letterhead frieze demonstrates that archival collections are rich resources for a wide range of purposes.

The frieze was installed to enhance the exhibition ‘Primary Sources: 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives’ (December 2010 – February 2011), however the frieze has proved so popular that it has been retained in the Library for this year.

Foy & Gibson Catalogues

The department store and manufacturers, Foy & Gibson, began when Mark Foy (1830–1884), a draper from Ireland who had owned various produce stores around the Bendigo district, set up a new drapery business in 1870 in Smith Street, Collingwood. Also known as Foy’s, it was one of Australia’s earliest department store chains, modelled on Le Bon Marché in Paris and other European and American stores of the period. The business prospered and occupied six shops by 1880. A large range of goods was manufactured and sold by the company, including clothing, manchester, leather goods, soft furnishings, furniture, hardware and food.

In 1883 ownership of the business was transferred to Foy’s son, Francis Foy, in partnership with Willam Gibson. Francis Foy later sold his half share of the business to Gibson and moved to Sydney, establishing Mark Foy’s there. Gibson added manufacturing and direct importing to retailing and acquired many subsidiary outlets in Victoria and other states, including Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. By the early 20th century Gibson’s store and manufacturing works, one of the largest employers in Victoria, dominated the Wellington and Smith Streets area of Collingwood, Melbourne. A second store — the Big Store ― opened in Chapel Street, Prahran, in 1902. After Gibson died in 1918, the firm was carried on by his nephew John Maclellan until it was taken over in 1955 by Cox Brothers, which went into liquidation in 1968. The successor of these businesses now trades as Big W, part of the Woolworths group.

Foy & Gibson catalogues began publication in the 1880s. Our collection begins with the Winter Catalogue 1902. Pictured above are the cover of Winter 1929 and and page 51 of Spring/Summer 1929, from the collections of the University of Melbourne Archives.

Vale Margaret Olley

These images come from Donald Friend, A collection of Hillendiana: Comprising vast numbers of facts and a considerable amount of fiction concerning the goldfield of Hillend and environs, with the result of many years of intensive and arduous historical research’ (Sydney: Ure Smith, 1956), held in our Special Collections.

Margaret Olley (1923-2011) was friends with Donald Friend (1915-1989) and stayed with him at Hill End in New South Wales in 1948. The sketch at the top is by Margaret Olley of Hill End cottages; the other sketch is by Donald Friend and is of the cottage where Margaret stayed with Donald in Hill End.

Wilson Hall – An Integral Part of the University

‘Wilson Hall has been an integral part of the University of Melbourne landscape since the first building to bear this name was completed in 1882. Built for the purpose of providing a venue for examinations, conferring of degrees and grand ceremonial occasions, the Hall has been at the very centre of University life for generations of students and staff. The original Hall’s destruction by fire in 1952 and subsequent rebirth in modern form remains one of the more significant events in the history of the University.’ From ‘The art of Wilson Hall’ by Emily Wubben and Jason Benjamin, University of Melbourne Collections, issue 7, December 2010.

This image of the first Wilson Hall, a hand-coloured wood engraving by an unknown artist, was published in The Illustrated London News on 31 May 1879  (reg. no. 2010.0001, Baillieu Library Print Collection).

Wilson Hall was named for Sir Samuel Wilson (1832-1895), a pastoralist from western Victoria, who was also a politician with an interest in higher education. In 1874 he donated ₤30,000 to the University which paid for the hall, and though the original gothic hall was destroyed by fire, the modernist building that replaced it and that we enjoy today retained his name.

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