Retro research for your find

One of the fun parts of discovering a unique item is doing research to uncover the history or background to your special find.

Unlike 20 years ago, the days of traveling around to uncover information are largely over. 90% of the information you can find on the internet, but don’t forget the value of libraries and other resources like the National Archives of Australia (NAA).

Before you hurry off to research your special item, one of the best sources of information is the person you purchase it from. Often with collectible and Market sales, you will not get a second chance ask questions. So gather as much information as you can when purchasing. Ask the seller:

  • Is this original or reproduction?
  •  How old is item?
  • If original, ask the seller to describe how they know.
  • Can you tell me more about this piece?
  • How did you acquire the item?
  • Do you have any additional documents or pieces that came with this item?
  • Do you get many of these items or see many for sale?

Asking these question may give you enough to be armed for a great discussion when you display your item. Visitors to your home, shop or office will usually comment on items that peak their interest. Knowing the basic facts will keep a conversation going for a while.

Now, if your retro, collectible, vintage or antique purchase really has you curious, go to the internet. You may find similar items on eBay, in museum photos or mentioned in blogs.

In some cases, you may need to telephone a specalist museum or university to understand more about what you have discovered.

Discovering a treasure and knowing a little of its story is all part of the adventure.

The above photo has many of the elements of an great retro image. The original is held in the NAA in Canberra. The Archive’s website is a good place to research Australian historical items and also find incredible retro images for inspiration or purchase.

The “car being loaded into a cargo plane” is a classic but rarely seen 1945 image that would look good in any retro cafe or aviators home office. The items number is A1200, L1834 and copies can be purchased from the NAA website.

At Camberwell you may find ‘original’ black and white images right back to the earliest days of photography. You can tell an original by the studio stamp and general look and feel of the photographic paper, its frame or protection.

Reproduction or original, if what you get is what you want, go for it! And enjoy the journey as you research your treasures!