Balmain businesses 1902

365 Darling Road, Balmain - W J Laws

From The Australian Town and Country Journal of 10 December 1902 comes this item in a special edition of businesses in Balmain, a suburb of Sydney.

My suspicion is that it was a promotional feature which may have involved payment for the placement of what were, in reality, advertisements.

Disclosure:  W J Laws was my great-grandfather who went on to become the Mayor of Balmain in 1907-1908.


The most imposing block of buildings in Balmain, without doubt, is that which comprises the Town Hall and Post Office, situated, as it is, in the centre of the suburb’s main thoroughfare, and upon an eminence which renders it visible from almost any part of the city, and even of the more distant suburbs. Right opposite the Town Hall, and within a yard or two of the tram stopping place, are the premises of Mr. W. J. Laws, auctioneer, valuer, and property agent.

In such a thriving district there is a lot of business requiring the attention of an expert real estate agent, while a lot of property owners have interests which they must of necessity employ someone else to look after. Of this business and these interests a very large proportion are in the hands of Mr. Laws, who has a local standing of very nearly 18 years, during which period he has not only gained a most intimate knowledge of local properties, but has established a reputation for business aptitude and integrity. Some three years ago Mr. Laws took over the business of Messr. J. Garrard and Company.

Since he first started in the business of real estate agency Mr. Laws has probably had the bulk of the property in Balmain in hand, and his acquaintance with local values is, therefore, of such a character that his advice may be regarded as practically infallible. The fact that he has lived in Balmain, too, since he was but a few weeks old is an advantage in a business requiring judgment as to the relative prospect of advancement as between different localities. He is at the present time a member of the borough council, and he has had, too, a wide experience in local municipal valuation. The list of properties passing through Mr. Laws’ hands is such that it is safe to say that anybody, no matter what class of house was required, could be accommodated almost immediately. Once in each month, or at any time, by arrangement, Mr. Laws holds land and property sales at auction. As an adjunct to his business he conducts the local agency of the United Insurance Company.

shopfront – A E Fowler: news & cycle agency

Three men and a woman standing under the verandah of A. E. Fowler’s News & Cycle Agency c 1920-1935 from the Reginald Wood collection of glass lantern slides in the State Library of Victoria.

download (3)

This report appeared in The Argus of 16 February 1898 – it may be a hint as to the location of the photograph.  I’m unfamiliar with the landscape of the town of Bright and am hoping someone might recognise the church spire or know some of the history to put us straight.  The catalogue record tags the photograph as Stores retail – Victoria.

Art Union - A E Fowler

donning a beer bottle costume to advertise the product

In 1890, lithographers Troedel & Co produced what was, for its time, a traditional illustration to advertise beer – via the State Library of Victoria.


The State Library of Queensland’s collection holds this digital version of an advertisement that appeared in The Queenslander on 29 September 1900.  Is this the first example of using a woman to advertise an alcoholic beverage?  Perhaps not.

I’m not sure this costume was as the Bulimba Beer was purported to be – specially suitable for tropical climates.

Advertisement for Bulimba Beer brewed in Brisbane 1900

Brownie cameras as cheap as 5 shillings

A hundred years ago you could buy a basic box camera for 5 shillings via The Sydney Morning Herald – 17 March 1913.

Go here for more about Kodak Brownie cameras.

SMH 17 March 1913 - Kodak


carbolic acid, phenyle, phenol – all purpose disinfectant

Another fine Troedel poster from the State Library of Victoria (c 1870-1879) No copyright restrictions.

Phenyle, phenol or carbolic acid was and is used as a disinfectant, although with more caution and regulation than in the 19th century. (Australian Town and Country Journal – 2 November 1872)

Little's Phenyle Disinfectantscarbolicacid

growing up on Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot biscuits

The Arnott’s Biscuit company used actual children to advertise the goodness of its Milk Arrowroot biscuits.  In a campaign that ran for over 60 years, mothers sent photographs of their children to Arnott’s who selected babies for the promotional ads.  The history page of Arnott’s website includes details of the campaign in which those selected won a few shillings and a tin of Milk Arrowroot biscuits.
Milk Arrowroot biscuits - Rudolph John Percival Fletcher

The Albany Advertiser – 15 July 1911


This apparently hastily created lantern slide served to remind patrons that interval was a great opportunity to partake of a particular brand of cigarette. Interval – time for a Capstan  ca 1900 – 1930 is from the Reginald Wood collection of glass lantern slides in the State Library of Victoria.

From The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (3 March 1938) a photograph of young women smoking before the general public became aware of its addictive and negative health impacts.


Time for a capstan

From The National Archives of Australia

The move to a ban on tobacco advertising

In 1973 the Whitlam government decided to phase out tobacco advertising. The change in government in 1975 meant the Fraser ministry faced a decision on whether to implement or delay the total ban. In a submission to Federal Cabinet, Health Minister Ralph Hunt outlined the medical evidence against smoking and its financial and health costs to the community.

In an opposing Cabinet submission, Post and Telecommunications Minister Eric Robinson argued that the government needed more time to evaluate the issues and to hear from interested parties. Supported by the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Industry and Commerce, he endorsed the tobacco, broadcasting and advertising industries.

Despite Robinson’s arguments Cabinet determined to continue with the ban and it came into effect on 1 September 1976.

Advertising and promoting cigarettes was par for the course at exhibitions and annual shows like this award-winning display in Brisbane in 1902.  Today in Australia, cigarettes are packaged and sold in plain paper with vivid health warnings the only ‘decoration’.

Queensland Figaro – 4 September 1902

Alfred Gross & Co

ALFRED GROSS & CO – Tobacco Pavilion Exhibited by Alfred Gross and Co – Cabinet of Tobacco Exhibited by Alfred Gross & Co

Alfred Gross & Co make a special feature this year of the W. D. and H. O. Wills’s trophy, a pavilion-like structure which was decorated early on Wednesday with a broad blue ribbon in honour of the fact that it had received a general order of merit. The principal lines displayed (were Capstan plug and Keystone light and dark tobaccos, together with the well-known Luxury, Sweet Briar, Three Castles, and Capstan cigarettes. In a handsome glass case nearby is shown all Wills’s attractive goods put up in airtight tins. The trophy is attracting a good deal of attention, for the goods displayed upon it are old friends of all smokers, and they are sure to “draw” in every sense, apart from the general attractiveness of the pavilion. Prize Schedule.-Tobacco, Cigars, Cigarettes, &c. Machinery and appliances for manufacture of same: Alfred Gross & Co., Elizabeth Street, tobacco trophy, imported and colonial; also, cigarette trophy, American leaf, each awarded first order of merit.