The Smellie & Co building down the bottom of Edward street is now a listed landmark building. I walked past it each day on the way to my studio at Metro Arts further up Edward Street when I first arrived in Brisbane. The facade is fabulously endowed with locally made rich earthy bricks, this was both a manufacturing and retailing enterprise and a large business in 19th century Brisbane. I remember an early cedar and iron ‘corn husker’ with all the original Smellie graphics on the verandah at Lansdowne Street when I first met Mal. Three items marked with white asterisks (above) could well have been made in Brisbane c1880s.

Another early colonial retailer was Whincup & Co in the Valley. This saddle stitched catalogue is a reminder of the forgotten retail clutter provided by those early suppliers. We believe this firm was situated where the old Walton’s Building still stands, Cnr Brunswick and Wickham Streets – here’s the full page .pdf (9.7Mb) with an additional three pieces of ‘collectable’ Seagrass Furniture.

Wunderlich Patent Ceiling & Roof Company, Sydney produced press tin ceiling tiles and all the decorating options including wall linings, stair and dado panels, perforated centre-flowers which were quite the thing at the Turn of the Century. We have three different catalogues that certainly present a pictorial record of the industrial advancement of tinsmithing, once materials and machines were applied with design and marketing input. Here are three .pdfs of pages, (1) is of Fishscale Tiles, (2) and (3) show finials in place on rooftops in the Saini/Joyce book  The Australian House, mentioned previously in our research. The Wunderlich Company commenced trading in 1887 and was a hugely successful firm which by 1900 employed over 1000 workers – their products clearly evidence the creative skills of metalsmiths at this time.

By c1901 most of the household tinware was imported by larger retailing firms. The decorative Japanned ware was superceded by white enamelled items which provided a clean, practical surface for domestic use.

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