Inside the Collection

A fun map for Mercator’s 500th birthday

March 5, 2012

Debbie Rudder
This map, drawn according to Mercator’s principle in 1795, is part of a board game. Spin a number, embark on a virtual journey heading south-east from the Azores, experience success and setbacks, learn some geography, and perhaps win by being first to arrive in London, the city where Bowles Geographical Game of the World was created.

Australian Pictorial Postcards

February 29, 2012

Geoff Barker
'In these degenerate days of postcards and typewriters letter writing has become for many almost a lost art and Lord Chesterfield’s ‘Letters to His Son’ would probably nowadays be dictated to a shorthand writer transcribed on a billboard and sent through the post …' The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 January 1895.

Back to school, Florence’s 1908 exercise book

February 27, 2012

Margaret Simpson
This time of year Mums and Dads are busy buying all the exercise books, pencil cases, folders and laptops for the beginning of the school year. School has certainly changed in 100 years or so. A little while ago I acquired a gorgeous school exercise book owned by Florence Breaden (1893-1929) in 1908 who attended Petersham School in an inner Sydney suburb.

The Friendship 7 Mission’s secret stamp of approval

February 22, 2012

Kerrie Dougherty
Fifty years ago, in the early hours of February 21, 1962 (Sydney time), NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, on board his Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7. Although two previous Mercury missions had flown brief sub-orbital flights, achieving orbit was an important goal for the US space program at that point in the Cold War contest of the Space Race.

Leslie Walford AM, 1927-2012

February 20, 2012

Lindie Ward
In 1986 Leslie Walford donated a flamboyant collection of clothing and memorabilia to the Powerhouse Museum. Including this charming musical teddy bear. It was a gift from his father who died when Walford was two.

Sydney Mardi Gras: a daring, dazzling and defiant display of difference

February 15, 2012

Anne-Marie Van de Ven
Over the next 4 weeks, if the rain abates and the sun shines, the city of Sydney will come to life as 1000s of men and women fly into Sydney from around Australia and the world for the 2012 Sydney Mardi Gras which kicked off last Sunday with the annual Victoria Park Fair Day.

Vulgarity kills the Valentine’s Day card

February 14, 2012

Geoff Barker
If you have just sent a picture postcard to someone for Valentine’s Day you may, or may not, be aware you are part of a tradition stretching back over one hundred years. Picture postcards first appeared around 1869 and from then on the ‘Valentines Day’ card, I thought, had been a yearly success story for the commercial printer.

How to make a nib – a story of gold rainbows and diamonds for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2012

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
I struck gold in the basement last week: 14 carat gold in the form of this delightful didactic display showing stages in making a fountain pen nib. Note the shape of the ‘breather hole’, which exposes ink to the air and helps it move smoothly towards the writing tip: a tiny heart.

Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop and problem gambling

February 7, 2012

Debbie Rudder
People around the world are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth on 7 February. Australia’s librarians have named 2012 as National Year of Reading, so we can celebrate the bicentenary with extra enthusiasm.

Back to school- Nicky’s 1971 school case

February 3, 2012

Margaret Simpson
All over Australia thousands of new backpacks are being slung over shoulders as students begin or go back to school. Backpacks were used from about the mid-1980s as health professionals worried about the damage to children's spines caused by heavy school cases.