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


David Webster’s Tea Rooms

David Websters Tea Rooms in Brisbane 1900

David Webster’s Tea Rooms in Brisbane, 1900, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

This image by an unidentified photographer was taken in 1900.  It illustrates the attention to detail and marketing skills of a man called David Webster, creator of Webster’s cakes and biscuits.  Originally a baker of bread, he introduced machinery to make his product and soon held a large share of the market in and around Brisbane.

Articles and advertising (it is sometimes hard to tell the difference) in Brisbane newspapers of the time showed Webster as the consummate networker. The company catered at many sporting and large social events including tea rooms at the races and community picnics.  Many organisations held their evening meetings in his tea rooms. In their early days, Webster and Company won government tenders to supply bread to public institutions.  David Webster had the odd skirmish or two in the industrial commission and the courts, and in 1898 was fined 2/6 an ounce for short-weighting his bread by 15 ounces after the original hearing was deferred when it was pointed out that he was a supplier of bread to the judge.  (Brisbane Courier – 4 October 1898).

bread case DW

The series of articles below gives an indication of the range of products and services the company provided.

The Brisbane Courier – 22 December 1900

DW - 1900 item part 1DW - 1900 item part 2

The Brisbane Courier – 6 December 1912

David Webster's Dainties - 1912

Cairns Post 28 October 1930

Webster's biscuits

The Courier Mail – 4 February 1936

The Webster family company also instigated the historic and much loved Shingle Inn recently resurrected in the newly renovated Brisbane City Hall.

Shingle Inn plans

On the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, an article about Mr and Mrs David Webster appeared in the Courier Mail – 11 December 1936.  Six months later, David Webster died.

Mr and Mrs David Webster - golden anniversary

DW commenced business


John Sands

John Sands 1842

Sun Herald – 12 March 1842

John Sands was a young man when he arrived in the colony with a level of ambition that matched the volume of stationery he brought with him to set up an engraving and stationery business.  Here’s a chronology of the business and how it developed and changed from the 1830s to now.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography provides details of his life and refers to the production of the first Australian themed Christmas cards by the company.

In 1881 the Sydney firm, known as John Sands Ltd, offered one of the first groups of Christmas and New Year cards in Australia: the first card, at a price of 1s. 3d., was listed as ‘Little girl offering a Christmas pudding to Swagsman’.

The Canberra Times ran a lengthy feature article on the history of Christmas cards in December 1975.  Some of the lithographs produced by John Sands are in the Pictures collection of the National Library of Australia.

Screenshot 19:03:13 2:32 PMThe man, John Sands, who died in 1873 did not live to see the creation of either the greeting card or the games segments of his business.

The Mercury – 26 August 1873

John Sands obit

John Sands games


George Street markets – Sydney 1876

From The Illustrated Sydney News – 16 September 1876

The George Street markets.
George St markets 1876


game, set and match – tennis courts for factory employees

In 1924 the Reilly Advertising Company created a series of images – seen here in lantern slide form – to promote Bryant and May’s, match manufacturers, as a model factory.  The factory began its life in 1909 as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 February.

Bryant and Mays to start - SMH 1909

From the collection of the State Library of Victoria, all of the slide images are out of copyright.  C M Abbot is the accredited slide maker.

The On My Doorstep website provides some background to the philosophy behind the running of the Melbourne factory (now a heritage building).

The former Bryant and May Industrial Complex is of historical significance as a rare surviving example of model factory conditions and amenities. The complex was run as a model factory and reflected the Quaker principles of the original English founders. Evidence of the amenities provided for its workers such as the tennis courts and dining room is still substantial. One of the first industrial nurses in Australia was employed at the factory from 1922.

Bryant and May's - by night a beacon

Bryant and May's basket ball ground
Bryant and May's employee tennis courts

Bryant and May's palais de danse


19th century advertising posters – Troedel & Co

Image - Wikipedia

Image – Wikipedia

This is Charles Troedel, a German lithographic printer who set up business in Melbourne in 1863 (150 years ago).  In the early days, Troedel employed the artist Arthur Streeton as an apprentice lithographer.  You can find a history of the company here at Troedel’s website.  In 1968, Troedel & Co donated its archive to the State Library of Victoria.

The four images below are part of that archive – late nineteenth century advertising posters for wine, furniture, horse and cattle liniment and bowler hats.  All are out of copyright and can be found on the State Library of Victoria site via the links under each of the images. Trove’s  Pictures, Photos and Objects section is a gateway to images in libraries and other repositories across Australia.


sweet and sour – insolvent confectioners

In 1842,  Cooke and Staddon were trading in confectionery – a wide assortment of lozenges, jams, candied peel, syrups and drops, including nonpareils, more commonly known these days as hundreds and thousands.  Sydney Morning Herald – 14 September 1842.

confectionery 1842

Some hundreds or thousands of pounds went to the wall the following year when Robert Bray Cooke, Thomas Frederick Staddon and their partner John Rostron faced the court having had their goods sequestered in lieu of debts owed.

NSW Govt GazetteInsolvency Cooke and Staddon

Over a decade later, Cooke was facing insolvency again.  Things really had gone sour for him by then as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.  He was trading as a vinegar manufacturer.
Cooke insolvency