Swinburne Law School’s Associate Professor Amanda Scardamaglia has taken out the 2020 Victorian Premier’s History Award for writing the first book that documents the visual history of print advertising in Australia.
Amanda’s book focuses on the work of Charles Troedel – the man behind the production of most of Australia’s early advertising posters and labels – to tell a story of nineteenth century Melbourne culture and the transformation of Australia’s advertising landscape.
“Charles Troedel was an award-winning printer and lithographer (the technique of printing on stone), who brought colour to the lives and homes of Melbournians during the nineteenth century,” says Amanda.
As a researcher and lecturer in trade mark law, branding and advertising histories, Amanda’s interest in Troedel’s catalogue of work was sparked because of the role it played in shaping how print advertising was protected by the law, and the way advertising came to be regulated.
“But I also wanted to make this topic accessible and appeal to a broad readership,” says Amanda.
“The images also tell a story about Melbourne, its people, its culture, about its history. It’s a story for everyone.”
Amanda’s vision has come to life in her award-winning book published this year, Printed on Stone: the Lithographs of Charles Troedel.
A sneak peak inside Amanda's highly visual book that features more than 70 prints from Troedel's collection of lithographs.
The intersection of law, technology, art and advertising
Five years ago, Amanda stumbled across an archive of Troedel’s lithographs in the State Library of Victoria, and says from that moment she knew the images and the stories behind them needed to be shared.
“I was blown away by the beautiful images and wanted to learn more about him and his work.”
A fellowship with the State Library of Victoria allowed her to access the entire, and until now largely hidden, Troedel collection.
In her book, Amanda has used more than 70 prints from Troedel’s collection of lithographs to tell a story of how the law, technology, art and advertising intersect.
Troedel’s works provide a graphic history of nineteenth-century Australia, speaking to the prevailing state of commerce, culture, social trends and colonial norms.
Lithography revolutionised the way goods were advertised and marketed in the nineteenth century, says Amanda.
“Advertising went from black and white classifieds to colourful, artistic masterpieces."
“Lithography transformed the production of print advertising, the same way the printing press transformed the production of literary works,” she says.
Amanda’s book traces the development of the law, in response to this technological change.
“The courts had to grapple with how to protect these commercial works and in the process, came to define the limits of copyright and trade mark law,” she says.
Advertising both reflected and promoted social trends at the time
Excellence in historical storytelling
The Victorian Premier’s History Award recognises excellence and originality in historical storytelling, with Amanda’s book selected out of 48 high quality projects and publications to win this year’s major prize.
“This award is a huge honour. I’ve been working on this book for so many years, I’m just delighted to see that this story and these beautiful images have resonated with others,” says Amanda.
Dean of Swinburne Law School, Professor Mirko Bagaric says this is the most prestigious award in Victoria for the discipline.
"The award is due recognition of Amanda's outstanding contribution and influence in the field and her commitment to excellence and diligence in her research," says Professor Bagaric.
The citation read at the award ceremony also praised Amanda for her ‘highly original’ and ‘elegant’ book:
“This is a commercial, social and cultural history, written in a scholarly style but with strong popular appeal. Highly original, this book is visually superb and endlessly fascinating.”
Printed on Stone: the Lithographs of Charles Troedel is available to buy online and in select bookstores.