library and museum blogs – finds worth the browse

Trove Australia provides access to thousands of articles, pictures, photographs, book references, maps, diaries and more.  The digitised newspaper collection was the inspiration for establishing this blog.

If you ever doubted the value of libraries (and I sincerely hope that none of this blog’s readers fall into this category), take a stroll through the internet for the wealth of material that gets shared via the blogs of libraries, museums and galleries across Australia.

A  quick browse this morning unearthed these treasure troves.

Who were the first retailers in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane?    The John Oxley Library blog.


What was the first state funeral ever held in Australia?    State Library of Victoria – Such Was Life blog.


Why a duck, Michael Leunig?    State Library of Victoria – Arts blog.


What was the meaning of embroidered floral postcards sent back from the front in World War I?   Australian War Memorial blog.

Australian War Memorial RC06231

What sort of toys did children play with in the 1940s in country Australia? – Powerhouse Museum, Sydney – Inside the Collection blog.


board games

The National Archives of Australia holds objects in its collection as well as records.  Pop over here for the story of Games We Played, an exhibition curated last decade.

In 1986, Manly Art Gallery and Museum curated Race to the finish: an exhibition of Australian children’s board games from colonial times to the present day.  The book of the exhibition by Robert Holden is available in various reference libraries.

Launceston Examiner – 13 August 1915

In 1915, the National Games Company was advertising for agents to sell a ‘great indoor war game’ called Bound for Berlin. War games were particularly popular with another, Dugouts and Trenches, referenced in the article below.

ROUND GAMES FOR WINTER EVENINGS. (The Advertiser – 11 April 1918)

Games that make dull hours pass away. Lots of fun and laughter. Marshall’s have an unusually large variety of Fascinating Games that promise heaps of enjoyment to both old and young. * From this extensive selection we quote:

Football, Golf, Aeroplane, Time, Flags of the World, Courtship and Marriage, Tiddley Winks, Ludo, Cricket, Draughts, Lotto, Word-Making, Peter CoddleHalma, Ludo, Bicycle, Yacht Race, Motor Ride, Snakes and Ladders, Coiner, Australian Navy, Boy Scouts, Dominoes, Sportsman and Rabbit, Dug-outs and Trenches, Steeplechase, Fairyland, &c.

** HT to for links to Peter Coddle and Halma.

The Advertiser – 11 April 1918

In 2007, Monash University Library purchased a commercial traveller’s sample book of games produced by the National Games Company.  The image (found here) gives a great feel for the style and colours in the product set.

Christopher George King was the designer and manufacturer of the games made by the National Games Company.  There are few references to him in the newspapers of the time or elsewhere. He is listed in electoral rolls as a manufacturer living in Melbourne in the early part of last century. He was born in England, and died at the age of 63 in 1928.

Image: Monash University Library

billy carts

Image: Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum

The billy-goat cart, shortened to billy cart, was one of Australia’s favourite make-yourself-amusements.  Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum has a billycart in its collection and a comprehensive historical background is available in the object’s Statement of Significance.  A couple of articles from the 1930s appear below.  I can’t help feeling less than warm towards the ‘socially important resident’ whose influence on Parliament might put a stop to some fun in the streets of Elizabeth Bay.  Australian Women’s Weekly – 10 February 1934.  I love that the police were foiled from solving billy cart crime because the kids weren’t moving the stolen goods on.  Sydney Morning Herald – 26 May 1932

Unfortunately though, many newspaper reports about billy carts are of injuries and fatalities that occurred as a result of collisions with motor vehicles or falls off fast moving carts.

Sydney Morning Herald 26 May 1934

Australian Women’s Weekly – 10 Feb 1934