Monday, May 27, 2013

Another large Indian Root Pills hiding

There's a large sign hidden behind the left wall of this yellow terrace house on Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy:

It's a large blue Indian Root Pills sign taking up the entire wall, and similar to the recently uncovered one just one block south on the same street. Here's a pic, taken from my post on this year's uncovering:

How do I know the hidden sign is there? A previous uncovering from 2001, photographed by Ian Harrison Hill. The photo was bought by the State Library of Victoria, which describes it thus:

Shows the north wall of 562 Nicholson Street, North Carlton, showing two painted signs promoting Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills. Signs revealed by the demolition of the building at 566 Nicholson Street. 

Note: it's actually in North Fitzroy, not North Carlton - that's the other side of the street.

I can't show the photo of the 2001 uncovering because it's under copyright. But you can see the photo online here:

The company behind Indian Root Pills must have had one helluva marketing budget in its heyday!


  1. Hi Stef,

    I just recently moved into a home which used to be a General Store many years ago. I have completely fallen in love with it and one of the things I love is the fading Robur Tea sign that is still visible (only just) and has lead to the affectionate nickname for my home of 'the Robur Tea House'. The previous owners have been unable to tell me much about the property, but I thought that given the property is Kendsington, Lewis & Skinner may have been commissioned to do the work and therefore you may have documents relating to the work done?

    I'd really love to know more about the history of the place and whether you can help me uncover a little of its past.


  2. Hi Catherine.

    Here's the reply I sent recently in regard to your question (which I think you may have posted previously?). Thanks for getting in touch!


    I'm also fascinated by the traces of Robur around Melbourne.

    A few things to consider here. Firstly, the Robur folks were incredibly active advertisers, and a number of different companies were employed to do their signwriting over the decades. I've seen some Robur signs with signatures by other companies (one example here if you scroll down:

    Also, I only managed to pick up around 20% of all the documents on the demolition site - so possibly there were many other job sheets I didn't manage to get.

    As for the Lewis & Skinner records I do have, you might want to start by looking here in these L&S books listing the Robur jobs:

    There are a few other jobs listed for Kensington, but none that look like your place. ( I'd love to see the Robur sign outside your place. If you don't mind, could you email me privately - stefan.schutt (at) - and let me know where it is?