Sydney Shops | State Library of New South Wales

Sydney Shops

Coming from a country renowned as the ‘nation of shopkeepers’, British settlers were accustomed to participating in a sophisticated consumer society and soon set about recreating ‘Regent Street in the South’.

Nineteenth-century Australia provided an ever expanding market for consumer goods. Higher wages meant many working-class Australians had money to spend. As these new customers began to feel at ease in colonial shops, they came to exercise greater consumer power with local retailers.

Sydney’s six newspapers displayed advertisements for retailers such has David Jones,
Mrs Hordern and Joseph Farmer, all destined to become household names.

Making the most of the engraver’s art, advertisements, trade cards and billheads (receipts) were embellished to promote the retailer’s premises to wealthy patrons.

Trade directories and illustrated newspapers also included engraved plates that record the
advancement of Sydney’s shop architecture and provide rare glimpses of the city’s rich retail
streetscape in the pre-photographic era.