My daily (if not twice-daily!) walks with my daughter would often take me through the streets of Fitzroy into beautiful Fitzroy North: here I would invariably stumble across more vintage signs.
While still not considering myself as yet fully addicted to sign hunting (that would come later), I would often find myself gazing up at the buildings around me, iPhone in hand, ready to snap the next great sign I would come across.
Although it is difficult to discover much information about most of the businesses and brands that are advertised in old signage, on the odd occasion I have had some luck.
Fitzroy North, 4 km. north-east of Melbourne, is separated from Fitzroy (South) by Alexandra Parade. Laid out in the 1850s, its other boundaries adjoin Carlton North, Brunswick, Northcote and Clifton Hill. Fitzroy North, like Fitzroy, has endured a long history as a mostly working class suburb only to find itself, in recent years, among the most popular postcodes in Victoria.
Bushells Tea has been around for over 125 years and has seen many changes in the Australian ‘way of life’ including the way we enjoy our tea. Gone are the polished silverware, china cups and saucers and the more formal approach to this elegant pastime but still today many Australians could not start their day or enjoy the Sunday papers without a nice cup of tea. Bushells has been an enduring brand popular with Australia’s middle-brow since its humble beginnings in a tea shop in Queensland.
The Old Post Office Antiques store in St. Georges Road, North Fitzroy is still operational after over 30 years in business in the busy street and remains a go-to destination for lovers of good quality Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian and Australian Colonial furniture.
Koinonia Supplies Pty Ltd. Having always found the name of this hardware and furniture supplies store a little unique, I was thrilled to find there is a deeper meaning to the name although the exact business and the company that ran it is still a mystery. Koinonia is a transliterated form of the Greek word, κοινωνία, which means communion or joint participation. It identifies the idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Christian church. Learning the meaning behind the name makes me enjoy the sign even more and wonder about the people behind it.
Ah The Busy Bee! Still one of my very favourites for the appealing name and wonderful terrace house building it graces, backing onto the Edinburgh Gardens – arguably one of Melbourne’s best and most popular parks. I wasn’t able to find anything about this little gem but I do love this sign.
Known as a ‘double ghost sign’ this building showing T. Peters & Co. Basket Shoe Manufrs and J. Imbesi & Sons Toe and Ballet Shoe Manufacturers. I am by no means sure of the dates of either of these signs however I did find an intriguing reference online to a business that was advertised in the Mercury and Weekly Courier in 1889. It states that ‘Peters & Co. Boot and Shoe Sellers, have opened a branch shop… in Clifton Hill’. Surely it is too much of a coincidence for these advertisements not to be related?
Last, but certainly not least, is a definite favourite – the Uncle Toby’s Oats sign in North Fitzroy. An iconic Australian brand that was first introduced to Aussie families in 1893 and remains a leader in the market today. Who doesn’t like starting their day with a warm bowl of porridge?!
Do you have any information on any of these businesses? I ‘d love to hear from you! Please let me know if there are any great ghost signs in your area too. I’m always on the lookout to add to my collection…