Tomfoolery & Hooligans

I have been researching Sydney in the early part of the century. I have always been naturally fascinated by Australian history (I have a history degree from Sydney University) and this goes in hand with researching the area for a bar I have been co-designing with the talented Kelvin Ho of Akin Creative.

The bar is located in a brick vaulted basement that would have been constructed around the 1850s. On a visit to the Caroline Simpson Library to see librarians, Michael & Matt, I was shown Henry Percy Dove’s ‘Plans of Sydney’ which revealed the businesses, workshops, housing & building that existed at the time. Oyster saloons, taverns, yards, tinkers, smiths, merchants & traders, lawyers, surveyors, milliners and other old fashioned trades are listed & sited.

I have written about Mr G Rice before, but another shop on Pitt St, called Mrs Palmer & co., taxidermist & furrier holds just as much curios.

I have named this new bar, Palmer & co. and lined its walls with photographs of the small time crooks, petty thieves & peoples of interest found at the Police & Justice Museum (often very well dressed & quite good looking):

Pickpockets, confidence tricksters, peeping toms, midnight rovers, rogues, vagabonds, professional shape-shifters, fly-by-merchants, fraudster, hooligans, brawlers, cardsharpers, ruffians & troublemakers.

If this is as fascinating to you as it is to me, the below have provided me endless enjoyment and information:

Crooks Like Us by Peter Doyle - an archive of mug shots from the Justice & Police Museum outlining all the mischief the crooks got up to.

Small Trades by Irving Penn - a book of portraits by the amazing Irving Penn, capturing people who practice small trades. This book is beautiful.

Caroline Simpson Library - it is so resource rich I know that CSL will have something for me irrelevant of whether I'm hunting for seaweed albums for my next book, Bowerbird or pictures of Mrs Palmer's husband.

Macleay Museum - I cannot count the number of hours I have spent here wandering and inspecting whatever is on show. This is where I found a tag, attached to a taxidermied animal foot inscribed with 'Mrs Palmer & co' and what started my knowledge hunt.

FILED 29, Apr 2012

  • SYDNEY SHOP & STUDIO 3.02 75 Mary Street St Peters NSW 2044
  • MONDAY - FRIDAY 10AM-4pm OR BY APPOINTMENT
  • 02 9516 5643
  • SYDNEY SHOP & STUDIO 3.02 75 Mary Street St Peters NSW 2044
  • 02 9516 5643
  • MONDAY - FRIDAY 10AM-4pm OR BY APPOINTMENT