Catalogue, The Australian Gas Light Co, album of photographic prints (Nos 622-708) with annotations, paper, made by the Australian Gas Light Company, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1932-1935
This catalogue appears to have been produced by the advertising department of the Australian Gas Light Company. Dated 1932 -1935, it shows window displays, show cards, posters, commercial exhibits, company vans and mobile displays which mainly target housewives to buy gas fuelled stoves, hot water systems and coppers for the laundry.
The photographic prints show that the campaign elements were mostly created in a bold, modern Art Deco style - especially the splendid typography! The designs aim to communicate, inform and encourage the consumption of healthy modern lifestyle-enhancing products in preference to the continued use of dirty and laboriously time-consuming coal or wood fired appliances.
Advertising slogans harnessed include: Instant Heat anytime (photograph number 622), Now! coloured gas fires (623), As cosy as sunshine and just as healthy too (624), Protect your family from the chilly blasts of winter with a modern gas fire (624), So clean, so healthy, so cosy (625), In the interests of health and comfort hot water is an absolute necessity (626), Modernise your laundry with a gas copper (627), Wipe out drudgery from your wash days (648), Free gas cookery demonstrations (635), Trade in your old stove for a modern one (642), Have more leisure hours on wash day (684), Washing day is easier now (689), and '98 out of every 100 Sydney homes use gas cookers' (673), and 'Sandwich & scone competition on Friday Oct 25 and Oct 31' ((704).
Other slogans establish the Australian Gas Light Company's credentials within the community: 'Gas bridging the years of a century 1841-1932' (with illustration of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, photograph number 649), 'Sydney oldest utility extends a cordial welcome to Prince Henry / HRH The Duke of Glouster' (664).
Douglas Annand's impressive design for the Australian Gas Light Company's 'Blue flame of health' logo (PHM collection 90/58-1/26/18 and 90/58-1/26/19) appears in two of the photographs in the album (703 A and B) as a central feature on one of the company's mobile displays. He may also have been responsible for creating Art Deco typography for the utility. This particular mobile display carries the slogan: 'Join the moderns use gas throughout the house', 'Gas The Blue Flame of Health', and 'Gas for the kitchen, the laundry and hot water throughout the house' (703A and 703B). Annand's logo poster was displayed in the 'Douglas Annand: the art of life' exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in 2001 and the Powerhouse Museum's 'Modern Times: the untold history of Australian modernism' exhibition in 2008.
In the last photograph in the album an extensive Australian Gas Light Company parade of vans and mobile displays proceeds down the main street of Hurstville, possibly during the Hurstville Shopping carnival.
This album complements the Melbourne Electricity Supply Company posters of around 1905-1915 that were acquired by the Museum in 2008 (2008/214/2 and 2008/214/1) as they too target women as the consumers of modern domestic appliances using new sources of energy.
Clare Plascow, Volunteer with Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator 2010
This catalogue, possibly produced by the advertising department of the Australian Gas Light Company, has been put together by hand. There is a hand painted title page, a pair of metal screws binding the front and back covers and content pages, the photographs have been inserted into mounted photo corners, each of the different sections of the catalogue are identified by small pieces of paper with typed annotations. Handwritten numbers are provided for each photograph in the album.
The Australian Gas Light Company was based in Sydney.
The Australian Gas Light Company, currently known as AGL, was first formed in 1837 in Sydney. It was the second company to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.
This catalogue was produced when the gas industry needed to change public opinion about the use of gas as a desirable and alternative source of energy compared to electricity through the use of propaganda promoting gas as 'modern' and convenient. The advertisements shown in the catalogue highlight the convenience and immediacy of gas when compared with alternative types of energy. (Throughout the 1930s the Australian Gas Light Company would frequently link the advertising of its appliances to both Hollywood actors and the movies which were being shown in Sydney at the time.)
Donor's wife and daughter found the catalogue / album thrown out for garbage collection with a pile of other stuff on a street in Carlingford / Castle Hill, New South Wales, prior to donating it to the Museum.
AGL Energy, Company Overview AGL Energy, http://www.agl.com.au/about/companyoverview/Pages/default.aspx, accessed 9/9/10.
Broomham, R. First Light 150 Years of Gas, (Sydney, 1987).