'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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Asian art and design collection of the Powerhouse Museum holds many fine examples of metal craft, including a significant collection of decorated Japanese tsuba (sword guards), as well as kozuka knife sheaths and handles, which use an alloy of copper and gold named shakudo.
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.
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.
This post is part of an ongoing series of energy storage posts by intern Brett Szmajda. Walking into the Castle Hill stores of the Powerhouse Museum is like walking into the prop warehouse of a Hollywood movie studio.