Cabinets of Wonder

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 10:00 AM through July 24, 2016


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Google map and directions

Event contact

Gerardine Horgan


Private collectors will unlock their cabinets and cupboards to share extraordinary curios and treasures from their personal collections in a new exhibition of Australiana.


Featuring never before exhibited material, this fascinating exhibition offers an evocative and beautiful snapshot of history, design and culture from 1875 to the present day.


Step into the world of the collector and immerse yourself in more than 40 discrete displays. Collections of historic chocolate bars, dance cards, bubble gum tattoos, scrapbooks, badges, blotters, biscuit tins, menus and sport memorabilia are but a few of the riches on display.


Curated by the Ephemera Society of Australia (ESA), this intriguing exhibition offers a wonderful glimpse into the world and mind of the collector while highlighting the richness and significance of the minor documents of life.


Featuring ephemera and collectables from domestic, working, social and sporting life, the exhibition includes:


  • Exquisite dance cards, 1880s to 1930s - the speed dating record of that era!


  • Historic real estate subdivision posters selling off Malvern, Balaclava and Anglesea


  • More than 200 scrapbooks from the 1970s to 2005 meticulously documenting food & grocery packaging, notes on the cost of living and receipts for local businesses


  • A wall of badges, collected over a lifetime


  • Representations of our national emblem, the kangaroo, from 1900 - 2016


  • Cricket, golf, football and Olympic games’ minor and major memorabilia.


Young and old are invited into the world of the collector, as the Royal Historical Society of Victoria hosts the Ephemera Society of Australia’s fascinating exhibition Cabinets of Wonder: Extraordinary Collections of Ephemera. Open to the public from Tuesday 12 July.


Event:                Cabinets of Wonder

Dates:                12 July – 22 August 10am – 4pm Monday-Thursday; 10am – 3pm Friday

Venue:               Royal Historical Society of Victoria, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne




About – Royal Historical Society of Victoria


Formed in 1909, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria is committed to collecting, researching and sharing an understanding of the history of Victoria. The RHSV is a community organisation that relies on membership subscriptions. Join today and help promote and preserve the history of Victoria – You can also keep up to date with the past via the RHSV’s Twitter and Facebook page



About - Ephemera Society of Australia


The ESA is devoted to the preservation, study and display of items of a transient nature. It is a longstanding association of individuals bound by their personal and professional passion for collecting. The ESA’s mission may be colloquially described as collecting material not traditionally kept by museums and libraries. Visit  or

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The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

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Our calendar lists all upcoming public events arranged by the History Council of Victoria (HCV), plus events in Victoria, Australia, that are added by our Friends and Members.

If you are organising an event that relates to History, we encourage you to publicise it on our website.

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As the peak body for history in Victoria, the History Council makes submissions on current issues. In doing this, the HCV Board is guided by its Advocacy Policy and by the Value of History, a statement developed co-operatively by the HCV and the History Councils of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

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Since 2015, the HCV has been pleased to sponsor the Years 9 and 10 category of the Historical Fiction Competition organised by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria.

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The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).



The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342