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Quorn mercury
Title : Quorn mercury Quorn mercury
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Source : Quorn mercury, 22 November 1895, p. 1
Date of creation : 1895
Format : Newspaper
Catalogue record
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Description :

Initially the Quorn mercury was a simple four page spread, with local advertisements on the front page and local news on the back, while the two inside pages consisted of syndicated articles and stories. For all 60 years of its history the newspaper never ran to more than four pages in length, and was probably one of the last South Australian newspapers to contain a syndicated serial. In the 19th century, correspondents from a myriad of settlements around Quorn forwarded news items to the newspaper. The editorial of the first issue defended the largely syndicated content, saying,

In the United States and Great Britain papers of this description are as general as they are popular; and vastly more interesting than they would be if they were printed entirely locally and filled up with 'quack medicine advertisements'. (3 May 1895, p. 4)

Despite this statement, the Mercury gave regular space to advertisements and testimonials for 'patent' medicines including Dr Ayer's Sarsaparilla, Dr Morse's Indian Root Pills, Dr White's Pink Pills, Bile Beans, Hearne's Bronchitis Cure, DeWitt's Kidney and Bladder Pills, Chamberlain's cough remedy and a range of other non-prescription remedies.

Geographical coverage The first issue contained reports from eleven nearby settlements, as well as news of the activities of local organisations. As time went on the Mercury included news from an ever widening area of the far north of the state - in 1900 the area of coverage was widened to include reports from Leigh Creek, Burra and Morchard. Despite its broad geographical coverage the newspaper concentrated particularly on reporting news from the larger centres of Quorn, Peterborough and Port Pirie.

News coverage In 1922 news items began appearing on the front page instead of the usual advertising, beginning with that season's football reports. This was an innovation which did not reach the city newspapers for another 20 years. When Frank Pitman took over the Mercury in 1923, more prominence was given to local Quorn news and events. Obituaries of local people were a feature of the newspaper.

Photographic content and layout In late 1899 the newspaper was substantially improved, dropping the syndicated articles and using an improved typeface. Photographs had begun to appear in 1896, initially being portraits of parliamentary candidates and mayors, but most often used in obituaries of local people such as Captain R.B. Williams (11 January 1901, p. 3) or occasionally depicting more general subjects such as the Quorn Railway Brass Band (4 October 1901, p. 2). Use of photographs ceased by 1907, but had a brief revival in 1909 and then were re-introduced from the late 1920s. After the Second World War, under the ownership of Lindsay Riches (formerly of the Transcontinental) the newspaper was again re-vamped.

Ownership The Mercury was founded by Robert Osborne of the Petersburgtimes, as an adjunct to that newspaper - Osborne came to own several mid-northern newspapers. In 1896 he brought his brother, Stanley Osborne, to Australia from England to run the Mercury. In 1908 Robert Osborne's Peterborough printer, William Henry Bennett, purchased both the Petersburgtimes and the Quorn mercury, as well as the Jamestownstar, a third newspaper owned by Osborne. In 1922 the Mercury was sold again, to Frank Pitman, who had been working at the Gladstone Areas express. Pitman in turn passed the newspaper to his nephew, C.J. Stephens, in 1941. In 1945 the Quorn mercury was obtained by the Port Augusta Transcontinental. The Quorn mercury ceased in 1956, and instead the Transcontinental employed Mr K. Smith as a Quorn correspondent.

Related names :

Bennett, William Henry

Osborne, Robert Martin, d. 1931

Osborne, Stanley W.

Pitman, Frank, d. 1943

Riches, Lindsay

Smith, K.

Stephens, CJ

Williams, R.B., d 1901

Areas express (Gladstone, S. Aust.)

Bile Beans

Booleroo magnet (Booleroo Centre, S. Aust.)

Chamberlain's Cough Remedy

DeWitt's Kidney and Bladder Pills

Dr Ayer's Sarsaparilla

Dr Morse's Indian Root Pills

Dr. William's Pink Pills

Hearne's Bronchitis Cure

Jamestown star (Jamestown, S. Aust.)

Orroroo enterprise (Orroroo, S. Aust.)

Petersburg times (Petersburg, S. Aust.)

Quorn Railway Brass Band

Transcontinental (Port Augusta)

Weekly times (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1895
Place : Quorn (S. Aust.)
Region : Flinders Ranges and Far North - Outback
Further reading :

'Death of Mr Frank Pitman,' Quorn mercury, 11 June 1943, p. 2

'Mercury carries on,' Quorn mercury, 8 May 1945, p. 2

'Peterborough loses Mr WH Bennett,' Times and northern advertiser, 2 June 1939, p. 3

Quorn Centenary Book Committee, Quorn and district centenary 1878-1978, Blackwood, S. Aust.: Lynton, 1978

'Robert M. Osborne: founder of the Times,' Times and northern advertiser, 2 October 1931, p. 3

'To the public,' Quorn mercury, 31 January 1941, p. 2

Woods, Anita, Petersburg to Peterborough: a journey from 1875 to 1986, Peterborough, S. Aust.: Peterborough and Districts Local History Club, 1986



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