H5580-1 Radio, portable TR-1 radio receiver, plastic / metal, designed by Painter, Teague & Petertil, made by Regency Division IDEA Inc, USA, 1954-1956
This Regency TR-1 transistor radio was one of the earliest portable radios imported into Australia. It is significant for the way it combines science, design, and culture: the solid state physics that led to the development of the transistor; the aesthetics and functionality of the plastic radio body; and the portability that took radio out of the home and made listening to it more often an individual experience rather than a group activity.
85/1286-1005 Photographic negative, studio portrait of four soldiers, A Wedmore [Driver], G W Ralston, W C Potts, World War One Gunners, 21 Howitzer Brigade, and one unidentified man, glass / silver / gelatin, owned by Tyrrell’s bookstore, Sydney, 1916-1918
Sometimes museum work can take a long time to bear fruit and this collection of World War One portraits is a case-in-point. For most of the twentieth century they were buried within the huge collection acquired by James Tyrrell, the Sydney bookstore owner. Presumably he had acquired them in the 1920s and 1930s, either as part of one of the commercial studio collection’s built up by Charles Kerry and Henry King, or separately at one of the many auction’s he must have attended.
Portable writing desk, thought to have been owned by David Lennox, donated by the Royal Australian Historical Society, Powerhouse Museum
This writing desk is linked to an important figure in Australia’s early colonial history. It is thought to have been owned by David Lennox who arrived in Australia, in 1832, seeking his fortune. An artisan by trade Lennox’s road to success was initially linked to Major Thomas Mitchell.
In 1828 Mitchell had been appointed Surveyor-general of New South Wales and he set about improving internal communications along roads to the west and south from Sydney. Mitchell was faced with a lack of capable artisans and in particular he needed someone with knowledge and experience of design and construction of bridges. This was because the wooden bridges were often badly made and subject to destruction by fire and flood.
Commemorative mug, presented to Edward Hanlan world champion sculler, 1880-1888, Powerhouse Museum, A7779
This Commemorative mug celebrates the achievements of Edward Hanlan who first came into prominence as a sculler in 1880, when he defeated the Australian Edward Trickett for the world’s sculling championship. Trickett had earlier won the title in 1876 by defeating J. Sadler and had retained it on his return to Australia, beating both M. Rush and Laycock.
Thumbscrew, torture device, date unknown, Powerhouse Museum
The image above is of a thumbscrew which I came across here in the Museum’s collection while looking for something far more innocuous – a wooden mallet made from a girder of the old Sydney Stock Exchange.
Engraved breastplate, presented to aboriginal man “Harry Mulbah/Chief of Berrallawah”, brass, maker unknown, 1845-1850, Powerhouse Museum A7765
Aboriginal breastplates, like this one, are rare reminders of the relationships that once existed between the Indigenous population of Australia and the European colonists. These breastplates were similar in design to the gorgets worn by Officers in British Regiments and were tailor-made for the recipient As a result the inscriptions and motifs are significant records from the early colonial period right up to the 1930s when they appear to have stopped making breastplates.
Poster, Bushranger ‘Reward Notice’, 1000 pounds offered for each of the following, Ben Hall, John Gilbert, John O’Malley and John Vane, 1863, Powerhouse Museum P.237/30
In the years following the 1850s gold rush a new breed of entrepreneur, the Australian bush ranger, took center stage. And even though they held up gold and mail coaches, killed travellers, and in some instances took entire town’s hostage many have been described favourably by historians. Why?
Expedition to establish first Observatory (detail), by Charles Kerry, Kosciuszko New South Wales, Australia, 1897, Powerhouse Museum, 85/1284-1337
There are numerous ways in which information is added to our collection. One of the most obvious is a result of the work done by staff to update our records but another important source of information comes as a result of the continual enquiries and suggestions from the general public.
A really good example of this occurred a few months back when I received an email from Adrian Ingleby enquiring about some photographs the Powerhouse Museum held relating to the ascent of Mount Kosciuszko to establish the first observatory there. Adrian’s interest was in a relative of his Bernard Ingleby (you can see him above, he’s the young guy on the right wearing the beanie) who accompanied Clement Wragge on this expedition. After a few discussions and an exchange of emails Adrian put me on to a wealth of amazing information about two of the photographs which were in the collection, and this post is a result of that exchange.
Portrait of Sir Henry Parkes, Sydney, Australia, 1880-1896, Powerhouse Museum, 85/1286-481
Sir Henry Parkes was one of Australia’s more significant politicians and journalists and the Museum’s collection of objects relating to him is a varied one. It includes objects representative of his years as a manufacturer of domesticware, toys and turned wood and ivory articles. Two of ivory handles included in this group were turned by Parkes in his shop at No. 9 Hunter street which he occupied from 1847 till 1852. Other objects, which also bear the mark ‘Henry Parkes and Co.’, were imported from overseas and retailed from the shops he ran throughout most of his career.