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We sell this city

  • Date recorded: 14 Dec 2016

  • Duration: 49:44

'These images say something about Melbourne at the time – the way that people, brands and businesses saw themselves, and the way they wanted to present themselves to the world as well.'

– Amanda Scardamaglia

About this video

Join design experts as they delve into the Library’s advertising collections to discuss the social history of advertising in Melbourne.

Amanda Scardamaglia discusses the significance of the Library's archive of 19th-century works by 'the grandfather of Australian lithography', Charles Troedel, whose company created much of Melbourne's early advertising material.

Megan Atkins delves into the Library's collection of Firestone embossed showcards to showcase their pioneering manufacturing techniques, as well as their historical, social and aesthetic significance.

Adele Smith speaks about Actual Size's creative work with independent radio station Triple R, now held in the Library's collection.

Speakers discuss how the Firestone, Troedel and Triple R campaigns and collections reflected people's dreams and hopes, as opposed to merely selling products; the role of visionary and emerging artists in creating successful work; the stories about Melbourne that these objects tell us; the migrant dimension of the Troedel and Firestone stories; the recent resurgence of tactile, 'cherishable' advertising compared to disposable (often digital) media; and what enables an advertising design, slogan or jingle to become iconic.

This free event was held at the Library on 14 December 2016, inspired by the ON AIR: 40 years of 3RRR exhibition, which includes advertising campaign material from Australia's largest and most successful community radio station.


  • MC: Richard Watts is a Melbourne-based arts writer and broadcaster. He currently works as the Deputy Editor of arts industry website ArtsHub, and hosts the weekly program SmartArts on Triple R. The founder of the Emerging Writers’ Festival and a Life Member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Richard has worked for a wide array of arts organisations and currently serves on the boards of La Mama Theatre and the literary journal Going down swinging, and is a member of the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel.
  • Amanda Scardamaglia is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Chair of the Swinburne Law School. She completed her LLB (Hons) and BA at The University of Melbourne and is admitted to practice as an Australian Legal Practitioner in the Supreme Court of Victoria. She also holds a PhD in Law from The University of Melbourne. Her area of research is intellectual property law with a special focus on empirical and historical studies in trademark law, branding and advertising. Amanda has published in both international and Australian peer-refereed journals and was awarded a State Library Victoria Creative Fellowship in 2015-2016. She is the author of the book Colonial Australian trade mark law: narratives in colonial lawmaking, people, power and place (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2015) and is the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Legal History.
  • Megan Atkins is a designer who specialises in interiors, exhibitions and graphics. Megan has worked as a senior exhibition designer and producer at the Library and the National Gallery of Victoria. Her exhibition designs are award-winning and she has lectured in exhibition design at RMIT University. She was awarded a staff fellowship at State Library Victoria in which she undertook research into the Library’s collection of Firestone embossed advertising showcards.
  • Adele Smith is co-founder and Account Director of boutique creative agency Actual Size. For over 18 years the Actual Size team has produced marketing campaigns, visual results and economical solutions to help their clients reach their goals. Clients include Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Wheeler Centre, City of Melbourne, Genovese Coffee and Triple R.