Inside the Collection

Tag: boring looking objects that tell amazing stories

Amelia Earhart’s last contact

November 29, 2017

Margaret Simpson
This ordinary looking stamped-addressed envelope in the Museum's collection features two signatures, one is of the famous American aviator, Amelia Earhart, and the other F. (Fred) J. Noonan, her navigator during their pioneering world flight in 1937.

Sydney’s most famous shipwreck – the ‘Dunbar’

August 21, 2017

Margaret Simpson
On 20 August 2017 it was the 160th anniversary of New South Wales' worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the 'Dunbar'. On a pitch-dark rainy night with a gale blowing a total of 121 passengers and crew of the sailing ship, 'Dunbar', lost their lives not long after midnight.

The Queen’s 1954 Royal Tour of Australia – a rare surviving memento

January 14, 2015

Margaret Simpson
Many of the objects which come into the Museum have great stories. One of the most delightful over the last few months was the acquisition of this very rare fabric-covered railway timetable. It was used in the Museum's superb 1901 Governor-General's railway carriage in which Queen Elizabeth II travelled to parts of New South Wales during her 1954 Royal Tour of Australia.

Light globe repaired by the Electric Lamp Repairing Company

December 9, 2013

Debbie Rudder
‘Save your Burnt-out Lamps. Repairs guaranteed equal to new.’ This line appeared in Sydney newspaper ads from 1918 to 1920. The small ads included an eye-catching drawing of a light globe with ‘OLD LAMPS MADE NEW’ written inside it.

Propeller from Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s Southern Cross

September 25, 2013

Margaret Simpson
I must have walked past the mounted row of wooden propellers in our large transport store dozens and dozens of times without registering what I was seeing. They are all mostly of beautiful polished timber but it's the broken one that's should have caught my eye.

Steamfest 2012 Mystery Object Revealed

April 30, 2012

Margaret Simpson
Would you have guessed the mystery rail object on display in the Museum’s marquee at Steamfest this year? Visitors to this event held in Maitland, NSW, over the weekend of 28/29th April were encouraged to have a go.

Building a better rechargeable battery

September 29, 2011

Debbie Rudder
This blog was written by intern Brett Szmajda, who is researching the vital topic of energy storage. I'm sure that many of you have heard of the Toyota Prius, the Tesla Roadster or the Chevy Volt. Hybrid and fully electric cars are making a big splash at the moment, promising quieter travel with fewer tailpipe emissions.

Black box inventor David Warren: a tribute

July 23, 2010

Debbie Rudder
The black box flight recorder was invented in Australia – and championed into production and use – by chemist and aeronautical expert Dr David Warren, who was born in 1925 and died this week. He was curious and clever (qualities needed to be an inventor) – and persistent (the extra quality needed to be a successful innovator).

Leeches, honey, tamarinds

March 10, 2010

Debbie Rudder
In the basement recently three highly decorated jars caught my eye – and transported me to a nineteenth century pharmacy. I imagined dozens of beautiful bottles arrayed on shelves, labelled with arcane text – and these three apothecary's specie jars taking pride of place on the counter, ready for the pharmacist to dip in and dole out their contents.

Old battery reveals its secrets

February 5, 2010

Debbie Rudder
Have you ever chopped up a battery to see what's inside? I certainly did as a child (but please note this can be a dangerous activity). Years later I was delighted to find this carefully sectioned 1920s Columbia Ignitor on a shelf in the Powerhouse basement.

Boring plastic flowers

January 11, 2010

Erika Taylor
BORING...was my first thought when I saw these flowers in the Museum's basement when I was researching our collection of early plastics. They looked sad, and like they had been sitting on a shelf for about 100 years.

The Traeger Pedal

June 10, 2009

Erika Taylor
Imagine, you're at the weekly pub trivia quiz, it's the final round and you need 2 points to win. Question 1. Which Australian Icon appears on the back of the Australian $20 note? a tough one! but some may know that it's the Reverend John Flynn, who started the world's first air ambulance service, The Royal Flying Doctors.