This collection covers a broad range of subjects including: early migrants in South Australia, the HMS Buffalo, surveying, the foundation of Adelaide, colonial government, exploration, mining, industry, early military history, royal memorabilia, numismatics and weapons. The collection features significant objects such as Light’s plan of Adelaide, the Stanhope Press (the first printing press in South Australia) and the Tinline Salver, among many other state treasures.


The Historical Relics Collection is one of the most extensive collections of artefacts from the early years of the British colony of South Australia. It provides an invaluable record of early settlers, explorers and the colonial government. The collection is reported to have started in 1836 in connection to the formation of the South Australian Company in England. First archival documents and then ‘relics’ were donated to Mechanical Institutes and other organisations which then formed the South Australian Institute. The collection was retained by the Boards of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery until 1940 when it was moved to the Art Gallery as it became a separate institution. It was at that time that a register was compiled and the collection was first referred to as the ‘Historical Relics’. The collection was transferred from the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1984 to the History Trust of South Australia. The Migration Museum and South Australian Maritime Museum now manage the Historical Relics on behalf of the History Trust of South Australia.

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Colonel William Light

Colonel William Light’s Plan of Adelaide, 1837. History SA, HT2001.166

History Trust of South Australia, HT2001.0166

Paint Box

This paint box is believed to have belonged to soldier, public servant and explorer, Captain Charles Sturt.

Stanhope Press

The Stanhope press brought to Holdfast Bay in 1836 was used to print the Proclamation of South Australia. 

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