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.
W J LAWS
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.
You can glean social history snippets from sale notices in old newspapers. Take this auction notice in the Sydney Morning Herald of 6 August 1927. Seven years before his death, Mr William John Laws was selling the contents of his home in Croydon, a suburb of Sydney to which he and his family had moved around 20 years previously. Laws was a business man who built up his fortunes based on a successful real estate and auction business in Balmain. He also served a term as Mayor of Balmain in 1908 and was an Alderman on that Council for some years. His mother was approaching 90 years old when she died in May of 1927. She had lived with her son since the death of her husband in 1910. Laws’ wife pre-deceased his mother by three years. His four adult children had all married and left the family household.
Over the years, the family had clearly accumulated many furnishings and the latest of products, including an Electrolux carpet sweeper. Did the house also have sufficient land to house 2 sulkies and a horse?
Electoral records show that William was living with his son near Lane Cove up until his death in 1934.
CROYDON. HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE and IMPORTANT SALE by AUCTION
will be held at No xxx EDWIN STREET CROYDON
NEXT WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, at 11 A.M.,
SUPERIOR HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE end EFFECTS
By order and on account of Mr. W. J. LAWS,
owing to the sale of the property
CROCKERY, GLASSWARE AND ELECTROPLATE
WALNUT PIANOFORTE bv SCHAECKE,
WALNUT CHINA CABINET, fitted with shelves; Rosewood Tub Chair, Rosewood Centre Table, Walnut Overmantels, a Small Billiard Table, Bagatelle Board and Fittings, Oak Extension Table, Oak Sideboard, Saddlebag Couch, Inlaid Cedar Hall stand, Oak Dinner Waggon, INLAID AUSTRIAN CHAIRS, Cedar Bookcase, Extension Table, Maple and Cedar, Pine and Stained Walnut Combination Chests, 4ft 6in and Single Bedsteads, with sets of best Bedding
ELECTROLUX VACUUM CARPET SWEEPER (only 3 months in use).
Axminster Carpet Squares, Several Rooms of Al
Linoleums, Quantity of Venetian Blinds,
Kitchen Dresser, Kitchen Utensils.
Electric Toaster, 2-roller Mangle, Kitchen Tables, Quantity of Outside Lots, 2 Sulkies, and 1 Horse.
On view morning of sale.
STRONGMAN and WATTON, AUCTIONEERS and VALUATORS (N. Watkin, Auctioneer)