In October 1895, 120 years ago, John Danks & Son, of 391 Bourke Street, Melbourne, invoiced the Richmond Council for work repairing a fire hydrant in Richmond. Melbourne had become one of the most modern cities in world, with grand public buildings and infrastructure, it seemed the envy of the world having grown on the back of the great Victorian gold discoveries of the 1850’s.
In 1880 the cosmopolitan city successfully hosted the Melbourne International Exhibition and in 1888 the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition, commemorating European settlement just 100 years earlier in 1788. By 1895 Melbourne had grown and was more modern than most European Capitals.
In five years the city would become the temporary capital of the world’s newest nation, the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia’s first parliament was opened in the Royal Exhibition Building and continued to sit in Victoria’s State Parliament for over a quarter of a century.
The Camberwell Town Hall just a few years old in 1895 and also symbolic of the grandeur and wealth of the new Colony and soon to be Federation. Steam engines powered transport, industry and helped build the prosperity reflected in the mansions and public buildings of the time.
In October 1895, an accounts clerk at Danks in Bourke Street quickly wrote out one month end account to Richmond Council n the decorative debit note, still bearing the medallions of the Colony’s success. But perhaps a little concerned, that October has been unseasonably dry and the drought had spread southward from the Colony of New South Wales. By November many wheat crops had failed and it was the beginning of what would become known as the Federation Drought.
Then one Sunday, 120 years later, a collector with an interest in old documents came across a stall holder selling several dozen old documents from Richmond Council. There was one in particular that caught his eye, from 1895, for a fire hydrant repair: it captured the essence of the period in Melbourne, steam, grand exhibitions, a little piece of paper that in a folder, in a box, on a table, of a stall holder at Rotary’s Camberwell Sunday Market.
That Bourke Street clerk at Danks could never have known, the invoice that was hurriedly filled out, would last more than a century before it re-appeared at our Market to be featured in an article by one of Australia’s biggest accounting software providers.
But that is what Camberwell Sunday Market is all about – who knows what you will discover.
You can read more about the invoice here: MYOB