Selling Real Estate is about creating an image in the buyer’s mind. Realtors have always called on prospective buyers to imagine an ideal situation, in a perfect location with the promise of increased value in the future. The positives are emphasised, opportunities abound and the dream is sold.

Advertisements such as the one in the heading, also tell us what the auctioneers thought would appeal most to buyers – the accessible location, easy finance, available transport options (tram, ferry, road), proximity to Sydney, and even “absolute water frontages with full right to reclaim”. The latter refers to the difference between the high and low water marks which allowed owners to lay claim to this land. Other features reference Abbotsford House, formerly the house of Sir Arthur Renwick and of A.E. Grace Esq of Grace Bros. Broadway, to indicate this is a prestige location.

Another reference point is Searle’s Monument on the opposite side of the Parramatta River. Henry Searle was the world champion sculler in 1888, before he was tragically struck down by typhoid the following year.  He competed in a number of regattas from this point and was watched by tens of thousands of spectators who cheered him on. Searle would have been very well known to Sydneysiders, although today his monument (a broken column in the water) is scarcely noticed by passengers on the passing ferries.

The mention of “Torrens Title” is an indication that the land will be transferred more efficiently (and less expensively) than would be the case with Old Title.

In contrast to the optimistic tone of the 1907 Auction which promises this is the “opportunity of the century,” the second invitation to buy land in the vicinity is “on the orders of the mortgagee” which suggests the offer is too good to miss out on and uses a little humour to reinforce the message.

The reference to Eight Hour Day (now called Labor Day or more prosaically “the October Long Weekend”) recalls the campaign led by Melbourne stonemasons in 1856 for a shorter working day. Their victory resonated throughout Australia and defined the Workers’ Movement for the next century or more. It is significant that the holiday is mentioned as it suggests the appeal to buy is directed at salaried workers, paid on a regular basis, rather than wages paid when their employer offered work.  (the modern equivalent of a gig economy).

Andrew West


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