Vintage Story: A Vintage Garden Party

I’ve been a little quiet lately but it was for good reason: I’ve been planning my 40th (eek!) Birthday party.  In true Found By Her style, I opted for a Vintage Garden Party theme.  Below are some images from my big day…..

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I had a marvellous time dreaming up my vision of the day and sourcing the perfect garden party decor: wool blankets for picnicking, choosing flowers early in the morning at the Brisbane Flower Markets, begging, borrowing and op-shopping picnic baskets, vintage napkins and tablecloths, old-fashioned champagne glasses and pillowcases, finding vintage fabric so my mother could sew the amazing bunting, and devising a menu, all of which was put together by my wonderful husband and mum.  It all came together on the day with the help of my dad and lovely friends and family and of course my mum and Craig, who made sure everyone was fed!

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A visit from Ruby the Red Ice Cream Van, playing ‘Greensleeves’ as she arrived, was the “ice-cream” on the cake!

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 Such a perfect day, better than I could ever have imagined, surrounded by my family and friends.

Friday Fresh Finds {6 May 2016}

These past two weeks, I have been fortunate to be entrusted with the task of selling some very old linens and ephemera from the Abraham family, a clan who lived in Marburg and Glamorganvale, tiny villages west of Brisbane, largely settled by German immigrants, in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

Some items have already sold but some exquisite pieces remain, my favourite being the unique linen tablecloth or bedspread pictured below, painstakingly hand stitched and crocheted with Australian animals – imagine the time, patience and love that went into its creation.  It was made by a woman whose daughter is now 87 years old, so truly has age as well as provenance.

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The pair of pillowcases, one of which is shown here, was made by Horrockses, a British firm established in the 18th century and which saw its heyday in the 1950s and 60s.  I love the delicate crochet panel which flips over the top of the pillow, reading “Good Night”.  Wouldn’t they look superb on a bed in a country or period home?


I have two dressing table runners, one of which is now listed, which would also look divine in a period property adorning a dressing or bedside table or kitchen dresser.  I will list the other runner, a pair of large doilies and two fabulous, award-winning samplers in the next week.



The bundle of ephemera above dates from World War II and includes an Air Raid Warden’s card, War Savings Group card, Identity Cards and a fabulous Airgraph Letter – letters out of Britain were censored then photographed onto microfilm then sent abroad where they were reprinted onto photographic paper.  This one talks about the author returning home after being blasted out by the ‘Doodle-bugs”! What a fabulous piece of history.

Below are some other finds from the last couple of weeks.

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Until next week! Jay

Friday Fresh Finds {15 January 2016} & From Days Gone By

From glass and timber to papier mâché and cloth this week! Click on the picture to take you to the listing.

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Here are some wonderful old ads promoting Cerevite – made not only for chickens but also humans, ETA and Peck’s Pastes – the feed sack and jars are remnants of these great old brands!

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Required attribution text: First published by RMIT Publishing, 2000; Photo from Kenneth Ross.
The ETA factory. First published by RMIT Publishing, 2000; Photo from Kenneth Ross.


Until next week!

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!

Vintage Story: Pen-Pals and Paper

I’ve always loved writing. Back in my school days I was actually quite good at it, so it would probably come as no surprise that I was seriously into the pen-pal thing and enjoyed penning letters to friends all over the world.

I think it all began back in 1988 when Brisbane hosted World Expo 88. What a wonderful time for Brisbane!  I remember there being ATM-like machines, provided by Australia Post, where you could plug in your age and interests and out would pop the name and address of a child from somewhere in the vast, exciting world, who had similar interests – kind of like!

We were also able to “purchase” a pen-friend at school by filling in a little form and paying a dollar (after doing a little research I found out it was the IYS or International Youth Service). A little while later, you would receive your new friend’s details and the letter writing would begin!

You'd get a little piece of paper like this!
You’d get a little piece of paper like this! Photo courtesy of the IYS Facebook page.

I certainly amassed a few! The boxes below contain just some of the letters I received. I’m not sure what happened to the rest but I hope to dig them out someday.

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I wrote to boys and girls from Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Portugal, Greece, England and Ireland, exchanging little stories about our daily lives, our likes and dreams, holidays and families.  Going to the letterbox was a daily pleasure waiting to see a brightly coloured envelope, or that crinkly airmail blue peeking out from the pile of mail, each with their exotic stamps and handwriting styles. IMG_4031

Sometimes, tucked inside would be a little present of stickers, song lyrics, jewellery, cards, even a personally created mix-tape. I loved receiving a photograph of my pen-pal, so I could visualise their faces as I read their news.

Many envelopes still contain the little surprises!
Little snippets of their lives

I was lucky enough to meet a few of my foreign friends in my late teens and early twenties when I travelled in Europe: German, Jan and his 6 foot 4 family, Effie, the beautiful Greek girl who ended up living in London at the same time I was there and my Irish pen-friend, Maria who turned up on my doorstep in 2009! I’m still in contact with Effie and Maria – be it only via Facebook.

My Irish pen-friend, Maria and I meet for the first time in 2009 after 20 years of letters!

Some of my favourite letters, though were between me and my cousin who only lived 30 minutes away in a different part of Brisbane.  Towards the end of 1988, my grandfather suffered a stroke and was in rehabilitation hospital for a few months.  Visits were frequent but exceptionally boring so my cousin and I would write little notes and squirrel them away somewhere in the hospital room for the other to find and delight in!  We continued to write, sometimes every second day, for the next few years. Our letters morphed from everyday chatter to teenage angst, boys and the pressures of high-school but were always colourful, with little illustrations and musings in the margins and mostly laugh-out-loud funny. She lives in the States now – perhaps we should find time in our busy lives to start scribbling all over again!

My cousin, Lyndal and me a few years ago – we’re still close even though we live so far away!

Today, it’s all about flicking off emails and texting and expressing yourself through photographs – putting pen to paper has almost become a lost art. I came across some of my old stationery the other day –  perhaps I’ll make the effort to sit down and pen some ‘snail mail’ when I get a chance!

Did you have a pen-friend or 10? I’d love to hear about it!


Vintage Story: Mount Crosby Pumping Station

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Here at The Old Farmhouse, we are rural enough that we are on a septic system, there is no public transport to speak of and we don’t even feature on the postie’s rounds: instead our mail is pigeon-holed at the tiny old post office up the road (but that’s another story!). We are, however, connected to the town water supply. The water pressure here is phenomenal, causing an explosion of powerfully gushing water whenever you turn on the tap!  This is hardly surprising when you delve into Mount Crosby history a little….

In the late 1880s Brisbane was in the grip of a water crisis so it was decided to construct a pumping station, reservoir on the side of Mount Crosby and a pipeline through which the water could gravitate towards the city.

The Mount Crosby Pumping Station Under Construction
The Mount Crosby Pumping Station under construction
A bullock dray brings the boiler through the forest in 1891
A bullock dray brings a boiler through the forest in 1891

In late 1891, the huge steam-powered pumps, reaching 27m in height, were cranked into action providing 45 million litres of water to Brisbane each day and from then, served much of the South-East with water for 115 years.

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Pumping engine
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Standpipe and reservoir

Electricity replaced steam power in 1949 and the beautiful old chimney was removed in 1958.


The pumping station is just a short stroll from The Old Farmhouse and I often like to wander down there to admire the gorgeous architecture – a thing of beauty unlike many of today’s industrial buildings.

IMG_2990Don’t you just love the round arches, the old brick, and the details in the cornices and architraves? A piece of Brisbane history right here in my little village!

IMG_2986So, whenever you turn on a tap in Brisbane, your water may just be coming from around here – as they say, “All pipes (well most of them) lead to Mount Crosby.”

Thanks to the Mount Crosby Historical Society for the facts and figures. The black and white photographs are not subject to copyright. Other photographs are my own.