Peter Spearritt collection (Museum of Sydney Collection)


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An eclectic collection of over 300 Sydney Harbour Bridge souvenirs. The eccentric cultural richness of the collection includes keyrings, cedar and crystal models, doilies, a radiator, cushions, matchbox holders, placemats, tea cups, biscuit tins, large screen printed posters and photographs, 1950s ceramic plates, ash trays, and posters by Martin Sharp, Anne Zahalka and Peter Kingston.

Professor Peter Spearritt is one of the preeminent historians of 20th Century Sydney. In the 1970s, Spearritt was one of the first academic historians to draw on the artefacts, ephemera and imagery of popular culture to tell the story of a city. He began his collection in 1972. It includes Sydney Harbour Bridge paintings, photographs, books, ephemera and souvenirs which were subsequently gifted to the Museum of Sydney in 2003.
The Peter Spearritt Collection has particular significance to the interpretation of 20th century Sydney and is a clear indication of the extent to which the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its image have come to symbolize, glamorize and represent Sydney in the eyes of it’s own citizens and to the world. Constructed during the turmoil of a world wide economic depression, the Bridge was a sign of hope and progress, an indication that Sydney might take its place among the great cities of the world. Proclaimed as an engineering wonder when it opened in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge achieved instant celebrity status. Many large and small businesses saw the opportunity to cash in on selling souvenirs associated with what was becoming a much-admired, iconic Sydney structure, as evident in the diverse array of items. The collection includes writing tablets, dishes, doilies and a needle book, along with a range of other popular souvenirs brought by proud Sydneysiders and admiring tourists.


Popular culture; Sydney; Sydney Harbour Bridge

Coverage Spatial

Australia; Sydney; New South Wales

Coverage Temporal




2012-05-30 23:45

2011-12-19 15:11