Museum Victoria’s Trade Literature Collection is the largest and most diverse collection of its type in any Australian public institution. Representing the products of more than 5000 Australian and overseas manufacturers, the items in most cases document products made, marketed or used in Australia between 1850 and the present.
Trade Literature can be broadly defined as any text or text- and image-based publication produced by manufacturers or distributors to promote, market, explain or maintain their product lines. It includes items such as promotional brochures, advertisements, product catalogues, repair and maintenance manuals, price lists, accessory lists, parts lists, sales bulletins, specification sheets and technical bulletins.
Advertisements are defined as a specific category of trade literature that appears as an insert within a more general book, newspaper, journal, trade directory or other publication. These usually occupy only a single page or a portion of a page within a larger publication, although in some cases they may run to several pages.
This collection is used by museum staff and external researchers to:
- Provide items for exhibition display or reproduction.
- Document aspects of Australian technological development in areas in which the museum is unable to develop and maintain extensive three-dimensional artefact collections.
- Identify and date technological artefacts.
- Provide insights into the social and technological context of different forms of technology.
- Provide insight into the role of marketing techniques and graphic design in the promotion of technologies.
- Examine processes of innovation, industrial design and the way companies have promoted their new product ideas.
- Understand more about what technologies were available in Australia at different periods and the process of technological transfer from overseas.
- Provide information about the relative cost of technological products and how they were marketed.
- Understand in more detail how particular technologies worked or were designed and manufactured.
- Research the impact and distribution of different technologies in Australia in a historical context.
- Provide information that can be used in the restoration or interpretation of artefacts.