Fusion: Deakin Exhibits Online

Show stoppers and store fronts

Law, Somner Pty. Ltd. seed merchants and nurserymen : [catalogue]

The Leader newspaper, Saturday 7 October, 1916.

Commerce looked a lot different one hundred years ago but branding, marketing and selling retain many of the same principles. The Royal Melbourne Show which began in 1848 and run by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, was an annual highlight of the trader's calendar. Held in September, the first month of Spring, Law Somner & Co took full advantage of the exposure a well-constructed stand could bring.

This image is from the newspaper archives of The National Library of Australia. It depicts the elaborate effort, Law Somner & Co went into building their show stands, as far back as 1916.

A year later the Leader described their stand at the Royal Melbourne Show, ‘as altogether one of the prettiest.’3


Law, Somner Pty. Ltd. seed merchants and nurserymen : [catalogue]

The Argus newspaper, 1944.


In The Calendar of Gardening Operations of 1864, page 58A, Law, Somner & Co printed the advice ‘Osage Orange is not available this year, in consequence of the American War.’4

This notation refers to the American Civil War 1961-1865 and it is a small but pertinent reminder of the historical value a trade catalogue can possess.

This photograph shows Mr Woods arranging a vegetable display in the store window of Law, Somner & Co showcasing what was being grown by the Australian army in the Northern Territory during World War II.5

The display is an early ‘grow your own’ campaign that cleverly provides a link with the war effort.