Paper Boy, c.1860

This photograph of ‘The Paper Boy’ was taken in c. 1860.

The scene is looking west down Collins St from Swanston St.

The paper boy, selling The Age or The Argus or both, stands within the intersection, eyes trained on the photographer. Horse and buggies, with men in black hats and dark clothing, are seen travelling down the street, perhaps early one weekday morning.

The shop on the corner is Powell’s – Walter Powell, who was an Ironmonger. They dealt in metal implements, locks and general hardware merchandise. Various implements, and possibly a timber ladder, can be seen on display around the exterior of the shop. This site is now more readily known as the Wales Corner, with the Melbourne Town Hall diagonally opposite.

In the distance, on the other side of Collins Street, the photograph shows a higher building with signage identifying the premises of another ironmonger – Briscoe Ironmonger and Iron Merchant.

In March 1861 The Age reported that a man was found guilty of taking a manure fork from the door of Mr Briscoe’s Ironmongery in Collins St and sentenced to one year’s hard labour on the roads.

As well as Ironmongers this part of Collins St, at the time, had watchmakers, drapers, tailors, hatters, cabinet makers and upholsterers. Upstairs were professional offices of solicitors, engineers and architects.

In the photograph can be seen open drains and low-roofed verandahs that slope down to Collins St.  Above this the facades of the buildings are of solid masonry construction, many with pitched slate roofs and chimneys and with similar style windows. Collins St, as the main street in Melbourne, had already taken on a distinctive character.

This photograph is from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s (RHSV) collection.

The RHSV is the historical society for the city of Melbourne. It holds regular walking tours, lectures, exhibitions and its collections are available for research.

To find out more go to

The RHSV is at 239 A’Beckett St Melbourne. Open Monday – Thursday 10.00 – 4.00; Friday 10.00 – 3.00pm Ph: 9326 9288

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