Wallace Bishop

Wallace Bishop is an Australian jewellery empire, established in Brisbane and family run since 1917.

Wallace Bishop Arcade, Albert Street, Brisbane, Queensland, 1939John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 84969

Who: Wallace Bishop Jewellers (1917 – present). Established by Mr. Wallace Bishop, and subsequently managed by his son, Carl Bishop. Carl passed on the name Wallace to his own son, who remains Chairman of the company. Wallace’s son Stuart Bishop was appointed CEO in 2012.

What: Family run jewellery empire originating in Brisbane, with 56 stores nationwide.

When: Wallace Bishop, an Englishman, came to Australia in 1908 with his wife and small children. His family had been jewellers for generations, but he originally migrated with the intention of working on the land. However, a twist of fate led him to employment at prominent local jewellery firm Flavelle, Roberts, and Sankey soon after his arrival. In 1917, Bishop went out on his own and began manufacturing jewellery under an eponymous label; the name the business continues to trade under today. In 1997, Wallace Bishop acquired another signature Australian jewellery firm, Hardy Brothers.

Where: Wallace Bishop’s first factory was located on Elizabeth Street, and later moved to George Street, where it occupied three levels. In 1920 Bishop opened his first retail store on Adelaide Street, in Fitzroy House. He later moved to prominent premises on the corner of Adelaide and Albert Streets.

In the late 1930s Bishop sought approval to build an arcade next door to their corner shop on the Albert Street side, and by September 1939 it opened to great fanfare. The arcade provided extra room for the Wallace Bishop store, who used the new downstairs space for large subterranean showrooms, and upstairs sections for workshops and offices. The street level arcade tenants included a corsetiere, milliner, frock shops, hair salons, and others. In the 1950s Wallace Bishop’s main store was remodelled to include diamond and watch showrooms, giftware and extensive jewellery displays. In the late 20th Century Wallace Bishop-owned jewellers Hardy Brothers occupied the Adelaide and Albert Streets store.

Today Wallace Bishop has several locations on Queen Street, Brisbane, and can be found in most major shopping centres and districts across Queensland and Australia.

Why: Wallace Bishop is one of the oldest family-run business empires in the country, with a history of significant contributions to the local and national retail sector. The Wallace Bishop business has been passed from father to son for four generations, with each Bishop trained as a jeweller and working closely on all aspects of the company.

In addition, the Wallace Bishop name is known for high quality workmanship and long-running designs, such as the ‘Loyal Watch’, which was introduced in 1934 under the direction of Carl Bishop. Loyal Watches are still sold by Wallace Bishop.

Wallace Bishop has been designing and making trophies, cups, and awards for sporting, charity, and social events for decades. In the mid-20th century it also specialised in enamel badge making. These skills were put to the test in World War II, when Wallace Bishop was appointed the official enamel badge maker for the Australian Defence Department, producing 27,000 badges.

While continuing to trade on its ‘home-grown’ history and personalised approach to retail, Wallace Bishop has also moved with the times, becoming the first jewellers to open a chain of stores in suburban shopping centres. More recently they have launched an online store. While Stuart Bishop was appointed CEO of the company in 2012, his father Wallace Bishop remains Chairman; thus the tradition of cross-generational management continues.

Wallace Bishop & Son jewellery box
Wallace Bishop & Son jewellery boxMalcolm Enright Collection
Mr and Mrs Carl Bishop are married, 1932
Mr and Mrs Carl Bishop are married, 1932The Brisbane Courier
Wallace Bishop jewellery store on the corner of Albert and Queen Streets, Brisbane, 1939
Wallace Bishop jewellery store on the corner of Albert and Queen Streets, Brisbane, 1939John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 73357
Wallace Bishop window display, ca. 1930s
Wallace Bishop window display, ca. 1930sThe Brisbane Courier
Wallace Bishop Arcade Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland, 1939
Wallace Bishop Arcade Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland, 1939John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 71755
Illustrated page from The Queenslander annual, showing Wallace Bishop Loyal Watches, 1934
Illustrated page from The Queenslander annual, showing Wallace Bishop Loyal Watches, 1934John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 505329
Wallace Bishop's new showrooms now open!, 1954
Wallace Bishop's new showrooms now open!, 1954The Courier Mail
A Loyal Welcome to Brisbane from Wallace Bishops, 1954
A Loyal Welcome to Brisbane from Wallace Bishops, 1954John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 193594
The Fashion Archives' Reading List:
  • 1935 'GLIMPSES WITHIN THE WALLACE BISHOP FACTORY.',Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 21 July, p. 5, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97857833
  • 1935 'GLIMPSES WITHIN THE WALLACE BISHOP FACTORY.',Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 28 July, p. 3, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97856617
  • 1935 'Advertising.', Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 4 August, p. 3, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97852529
  • 1935 'Advertising.', Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 11 August, p. 5, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97858572
  • 1935 'GLIMPSES WITHIN THE WALLACE BISHOP FACTORY.',Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 18 August, p. 5, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97857439
  • 1939 'Arcade Approved By Council.', The Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 8 July, p. 3, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40858219
  • 1939 'Modern Arcade to Open in City Tomorrow.', Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 24 September, p. 14, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page10216258
  • 1954 'The burglar got there first in 1920.', The Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 23 November, p. 10, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50621634
  • 1954 'The SWISS WATCH can tick for a lifetime.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 23 November, p. 11, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50621636
  • 2012 'Queensland jewellers Wallace Group still prospering after four generations.', The Courier Mail, Brisbane. 29 October, viewed 1 November, http://www.couriermail.com.au/business/queensland-jewellers-wallace-group-still-prospering-after-four-generations/story-fnfli675-1226504880487
  • Wallace Bishop Jewellers, 2013, Available from: http://wallacebishop.com.au [1 November 2013].

Published in , on November 5, 2013.