A LOOK BACK IN TIME: An Australian venture

By IW Observer.co.uk Mar 19, 2022

The Isle of Wight Observer of March 17th, 1855 gives two accounts of trade which caught our eye this week.

They say travel broadens the mind, but it certainly didn’t deepen the pockets of poor Capt. Stallard, who was clearly not impressed with his visit to Australia. His vessel, Gem, clearly sailed laden with boots instead of bad cabbages.

Somewhat closer to home, the editor describes the trading practices of the drapers of Ryde with what appears to be a heavy dose of sarcasm.


Some time ago we gave an account of the undertaking of Capt. Stallard, who left this town for Australia in the cutter “Gem,” of 80 tons, laden with merchandise. The vessel arrived safely at Melbourne, where she and her cargo were sold, but not to any advantage. Capt. Stallard then worked his passage back, and is again at home. He does not give a very flattering account of the morals of the people, or of the prospects of the trade of the colony. The fluctuations are fortune-making or ruinous, just as it happens. When he left, the price of a bad cabbage was 2s. 6d., an apple or turnip 1s.; but a pair of boots (worth 15s.) was only 3s. 6d. or 4s. The market was glutted in one article and destitute in another.

The only briskness manifested in Ryde is amongst the drapers; who, to keep pace with their enormous increase of business, have been compelled to prolong their trade-hours from 7 to 8 p.m.! This, while it improves the profits of the master, happily relieves the assistant of one hour of evening temptation – which, it is said, was destructive of their morals. Of course, the public will assist this retrograde move, by shopping as late as they possibly can. The grocers do not seem to participate in this prosperity.