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8 Oct 2019
A Pig in a Poke
Play episode · 32 mins

Wherein we plunder suitcases full of mystery…


Herald (Melbourne), 18 December 1893, p. 4, col. 5

Here’s a sample of the headlines that would follow railway lost property sales –


And why not read on – here and here

Moreover, there was this
  and this


That last item, in The Catholic Press (Sydney) in 1898, noted:
‘That the Lost Property Office has many times been used for the purpose of hiding things in there can
be no doubt. Butler hid Lee Weller’s sea chest and some of his belongings there.’
‘Butler’ was Frank Butler, considered by some to have been Australia’s first serial killer, with Lee Weller
one of his victims. Read about Butler’s crimes and the ‘cloaking’ of Weller’s sea chest here and also here.

The Melbourne Argus (27 July 1923, p. 7) asks a very good question –


The headline (above) is a ball-tearer – but the text (at Trove Newspapers) is all but illegible.
See if your eyes fare better than mine. (I’d love to know the story.)

There were still umbrellas aplenty on offer at a Sydney lost property auction in 1940 –

Could the chap in vest and shirtsleeves (below) be the legendary Sid Whittred,
the Queensland Railways auctioneer who ‘never failed to see the funny side of things’?

(Brisbane Courier, 26 August 1932, p. 16)

And finally, here’s the link I promised – to ‘The Lost Property Office’, by William G. Fitzgerald,
from The Strand magazine, vol X, July–December 1895. Featuring eye-popping photos taken
inside the lost property depots of the major London railway stations and Scotland Yard,
it’s a real gem. You can find it here, digitised by the Internet Archive.

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