These trading boards from the Brisbane Stock Exchange were among the first objects to be moved into the Landmarks gallery. Daniel Oakman, curator of our Expanding the Economy module, reflects on their history.
These trading boards are from the Brisbane Stock Exchange and are the last of their kind in Australia. When stock and share trading went electronic in 1990, these giant blackboards, which were used to record prices and transactions, became redundant, and trading floors across Australia closed down.
Each listing, of course, tells its own story about the financial history of Australia. One gem hidden away is Alan Bond’s “Bond Corp” which has a red ‘Suspended’ sign alongside it. When the trading floors closed, the exchange had suspended trading in the company. The suspension marked the beginning of a spectacular fall from grace for the former Australian of the Year and hero of the 1983 America’s Cup victory. In 1992, Bond was declared bankrupt and later convicted of fraud.
While the trading boards have had a very serious working life recording the financial turmoil of the late 1980s, I’ve also tended to respond to them with a strong sense of nostalgia. They remind me of Nicholson’s ‘Rubbery figures‘ series, whose puppets lampooned Australian and international politicians, but also captured the complex financial and economic changes of the day with great wit.
The boards also remind me of those other trademarks of the era: corporate takeovers, big hair, shoulder pads, and let’s not forget the man perms!