Inside the Collection

The Sydney Easter show, early product advertising

Photograph exhibit for Thorpes Ltd at Sydney Royal Easter Show 1930
2002/105/1-2/25 Photographic print, black & white, promotional exhibit for Thorpes Ltd at Sydney Royal Easter Show designed by Rousel Studios, Broughton & Ward, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c 1930. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

The Sydney Royal Easter Show has a 191 year history. Its beginnings can be traced to 5th July 1822, when the Agricultural Society of NSW (later the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW) was founded at a meeting in Sydney. It was an important opportunity for growers and manufacturers to display their goods and compete. The display featured above was from a feed supply company, Thorpe Ltd. An article in the Brisbane Courier described Thorpe Ltd’s display in the Industrial Hall at the Brisbane agricultural show in 1922 and praised the virtues of their feed product. Stating in that year alone they “issued 20,000 feeding charts free for the guidance of those who were prepared to feed in Thorpes way‘”.

Photograph promotional exhibit for Cerebos Salt 1931
2002/105/1-2/37 Photographic print, black & white, mounted, promotional exhibit for Cerebos Salt at 1931 Sydney Royal Easter Show designed by Rousel Studios, Jim Howarth Studio, Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia, 1931
Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Perhaps now we would consider a whole display on salt or margarine somewhat unusual. In 1925, Cerebos Limited of England set up an Australian branch to directly market Cerebos salts and Bisto gravy powder in Australia. The image below is from the Australian Margarine Manufacturers display. All the images shown in this post feature the work of Rousel Studios who were signwriters, graphic designers and creators of promotional work including displays for the Easter Show.

Photograph Sydney Royal Easter Show manikins
Detail from 2002/105/1-2/27 Photographic print, at Sydney Royal Easter Show designed by Rousel Studios, Broughton & Ward, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c 1930. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

In the 1920s and 30s companies like Clyde Engineering and Tooth and Co would have substantial pavilions rather than a display within the industrial or agricultural halls.  The image below shows the Clyde Pavilion at the Sydney Royal Easter Show at Moore Park, Sydney between 1898 and 1909. This pavilion housed products made by the large Australian firm Clyde Engineering Co. Ltd of Granville, a Sydney suburb. Clyde Engineering made agricultural machinery, engineering equipment, and railway rolling stock during the first half of the twentieth century.

Photograph glass plate negative, Clyde Pavilion Royal Easter Show
88/289-468 Photographic glass plate negative, Clyde Pavilion Royal Easter Show, traction engines and ferris wheel near Clyde display, Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Australia, 1898-1909. Collection : Powerhouse Museum

Anni Turnbull, curator design and society

One response to “The Sydney Easter show, early product advertising

  • In the late 70s to the early 80s my grandfather would bring his prize winning Hereford bulls down to the show at Moore Park. I remember the show fondly and was so disappointed when it moved to Homebush. Would love to try and find photographs from those years, if anyone reads this and knows of any other photo archives pls email me.

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