Vintage Story: Who was Olive Shipp?

One of the delights of discovering vintage treasures is imagining their history – those who have come before us were using these objects in their daily lives, often in a utilitarian way and sometimes as prized ornaments or homewares. It is with great pleasure that I sometimes learn some of the true stories surrounding the people and their objects. These little snippets of history are always the diamonds in the treasure chest!

Recently I came across a stack of old receipts from the late 1920s and early 30s. They were all kept fastidiously by the same person: a Miss Olive Doreen Shipp of Cornwall St. Greenslopes.  I was intrigued – these tatty old pieces of paper gave such an insight into her life. I decided to play “Private Investigator” and delved into the land of Google to try to find out more about this young woman of the Thirties.

In 1929, Olive has just come of age, turning 21. She is in exciting negotiations with her bank, Toowoomba Permanent Benefit Building & Investment Society and solicitors, T.P Noonan & Knowles to purchase her first house in Cornwall St. Greenslopes (7th down from Logan Rd and before Short St).

This is really the house! Typical architecture of the time.

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She applies to the Brisbane City Council to have her water supply, gas and electricity connected. Saving her pennies is important to Olive so she takes on board the tips, provided on the reverse of the pink electricity bill, on how to most frugally use electricity. Some of those wonderful appliances also take her fancy!

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She is thrilled to be setting up her own house, busily shopping at F. Tritton and John Hicks and Co. for furniture. Always conscious of her finances, she chooses the lay-by payment plans offered by the companies

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The little stamps are literally for “Stamp Duty” and were called perfins.

Oh my, so much to choose from!




Now she has a well-paying job at Hardy Brothers in Queen St. she is able to splash out on her most exciting purchase yet – a Chevrolet Tourer! She adores zipping around town in it!

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She’s enjoying being a bachelorette and loves to entertain, especially with her best friend, Phyllis Fairbrother, so she decides to hire a Victor Player Piano from Palings.  There are some strict terms to the rental agreement and insurance policies for fire and theft must be taken out.

The Victor Player Piano
The Victor Player Piano
These were the music rolls inserted into the piano so it could play by itself!

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Her parents, Robert and Eliza often pop in to visit their youngest daughter and Olive proudly displays her father’s photograph on the mantlepiece.  He is sexton at the South Brisbane Cemetery in Dutton Park and a very important person.

Robert Shipp, Olive's father
Robert Shipp, Olive’s father

So who was Olive Doreen Shipp? We know a little about her life now – can you imagine her, so young and full of dreams and ambitions? Would you like to see a picture of her?

Our Olive
Our Olive

It wasn’t until she was 29, in 1937 that she became engaged to Stanley Taylor and they were married on December 28.

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Can you imagine Olive at her bridal shower? Swanning around the Golden Glow Cafe in her pink lace chiffon?
Records show Olive and Stanley then moved to Bulimba and her last known residence was in Bundamba, not far from where I live now.  It appears she didn’t have any children with Stanley.  She passed away in 1977.

Thanks, Olive, for allowing me to share your story!

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