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10 quirky things in the City Collection vault

Did you know the city has a treasure trove of vintage film photography, costumes, sculptures and street signs? Go for a wander through the online corridors and unearth something surreal.

1. 80s bottle of Moomba Spumante champers

What better way to celebrate Moomba 1981 than to pop a bottle of clown brand Moomba spumante. Never opened, it’s a time capsule of 80s excess and Melbourne eccentricity.

2. Ceramic Milk Bar essentials

Local artist Kenny Pittock captures our Melbourne milk-bar obsession in his life-sized snack ceramics. We want to fill a shelf with his Milko, Sherbies, Killer Python and sauce bottle. Plus It’s a long way to the top if you wanna sausage roll.

Sculpture of a Paddle Pop ice cream

Kenny Pittock’s double-take Paddle Pop sculpture

3. Rollergirls and teddy bears

Council events looked a little different in the 70s. The popular Free Entertainment in the Park program featured roller girls, teddy bears and bikini models. Take a deep dive. There was plenty going on in the park back in the day. Like these jazz-handed seagull entertainers.

4. Anthropomorphic Flinders Street Station teapot

Melbourne children’s writer and illustrator Leigh Hobbs is a national treasure. His mischievous characters Old Tom and Horrible Harriet are responsible for generations of giggles. Leigh Hobbs hand made this porcelain teapot in 1984. 100% would make a cuppa with this cutie.

A ceramic teapot in the shape of Flinders Street station with eyes and mouth

Leigh Hobbs’ anthropomorphic Flinders Street Station teapot, 1984

5. Gifted model banana

How to commemorate the launch of the 1992 Coffs Harbour tram? Present the Lord Mayor with a wooden model banana of course. A gift from the Mayor of Coffs Harbour to the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. Looks like someone took a bite out of this one.

6. This creepy disinfectant ad The World’s Greatest Murderer – the Fly

This disinfectant company was a fan of a shock horror approach to advertising. This bizarre 1911 booklet is titled The World’s Greatest Murderer – the Fly. It details the dangers of disease and tells consumers to fight the fly or else.

Vintage adverisment for disinfectant with illustration of a huge fly stealing an infant with text "The Worlds Greated Murderer - the Fly

Creepy disinfectant ad The World’s Greatest Murderer – the Fly

7. Kill That Rat

Rats were public enemy number one in 1955. So much so that the City of Melbourne was advertising cheap poison baits to Kill that Rat. Just drop by Town Hall to pick some up – available ‘in quantities to suit every circumstance.’ Yikes.

8. Nick Cave the plate

Legendary Mambo designer Gary Wedd created this series of rock star ceramics. We especially love the Paul Kelly and Nick Cave plates – complete with cigarette smoke. On his inspiration, the artist says ‘These plates are a kind of tribute to the deep well of Melbourne’s songwriting culture, partly portraiture and partly kitsch fan tribute.’

Ceramic plate with painting of Nick Cave

Nick Cave plate by Gerry Wedd

9. The first brick

According to J.W. Meaden’s label, this brick was one of the first made in Victoria. He reckons it’s from an 1837 house built on the corner of Queen and Bourke streets. With pretty good foresight, he writes ‘ future years this will be regarded as an interesting relic of the earliest stage of the settlement of the Colony.’

10. Industrial safety shoe

Now that’s a sturdy shoe. There are loads of surreal photos of the everyday going ons in the 1950’s engineering branch. From potholes to trenches to this toe safety test. Viewed today, these images seem weird and wonderfully contextless.