In my last post I put out a plea for help with identifying a mysterious object featured in a photograph from our John Flynn collection. Our caption title for the photograph was just "Unidentified object, two egg-shaped bulbs joined by a tube" and we really had no idea what it could be.
That unidentified object
Among the hundreds of thousands of photographs held by the Library are some that remain a mystery to us. They have been acquired as part of albums or collections without any captions or other information that might help us to identify the people, objects or places in them. Tantalizing and intriguing, we wish we knew more about them. They might be exactly what someone is looking for, if only we knew where/who/what they were!
While most people love the feel of opening up a brand new book or magazine, or being the first to see a photograph "hot off the camera", what I love most about the NLA's collections are the "pre-owned" items that we've acquired. If only they could speak, imagine the stories they could tell about where they have been, the hands they have passed through, the impact they've had on thoughts and lives. In fact, sometimes it's the little bits and pieces that might be written in, or accompany an item that add unexpected colour and context.
In the days before TV and local movie theatres, what did people do for a night’s entertainment out in the suburbs or in country towns? Playbills and broadsides provide a fascinating insight into what was “hot”. In the early years of the 20th century, variety troupes toured the country presenting special guest artists from Australia and overseas, plus the latest in mechanical “moving pictures” to amaze and delight their audiences.
The Christmas festive season is here And we all take a sip with good cheer As you savour that drink Something to ponder I think What gives a beverage its fame Is it all in the name?
Some last long since first made Pepsi, fanta, lemonade But some are destined not to last Marketing failures from our past Launched with hope that was great Now forgotten is their fate
I have been busy cataloguing more zines and comics from the Nick Henderson Zine Collection. My favourite surprise was "Snake Tree" by SOLS (really Allan Salisbury), which is a collection of strips from the Snake Tales cartoon. Snake Tales is syndicated in many papers around Australia and the world. Before it was syndicated in the United States Lady Snake started wearing a bikini top (a touch of modesty for the US market?). It did not spoil the story.
With the London olympics fast approaching, some champions of the past are in the news again. Last Sunday the ABC program Hindsight mentioned an upcoming broadcast that would include a discussion of Fanny Durack, the Australian who won the gold medal for women's swimming at the Stockholm Olympics 100 years ago in 1912. She was the first Australian woman to win a gold medal at an Olympic games.
Sometimes what begins as a spoof or an advertisement can become something much more. Back in the 1970s a cartoonist in Port Moresby PNG did a series of humorous ads in pidgin for Isuzu trucks featuring a character called Isuzu Lu. These ads by Bob Browne proved so popular that they later became a regular comic strip in the PNG Post Courier and Browne used the good hearted and somewhat naive character to gently satirise aspects of PNG society. The early Isuzu Lu cartoons have been collected into several anthologies, and we hold books 1 and 3.