A batch of forgotten paintings has come to light on the other side of the world, shedding a little light on life in Durham in the 1820s.
They tell us that you could get a nice fillet of fish in the North-East city when George IV was on the throne.
Also, that the pride and pleasure derived from gardening was as great then as it is for many today.
Among 51 watercolours unearthed in a backroom drawer at a museum in Tasmania are a portrait of a Durham fishmonger, standing proudly behind his wares, and another of a gardener from the city, wearing a battered top hat and clutching a pair of pot plants that would grace any modern conservatory.
The paintings are the work of an artist called John Dempsey, reportedly described by David Hansen, senior art curator at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, as "a bare whisper in the literature of art history".
They have caused excitement in Australia and Britain because they feature poor people and members of the working class who, unlike the rich and aristocratic, were rarely painted as individuals.
"These are images of the previously unseen," Mr Hansen told a reporter in Australia. "They are a slice through a social class. They are quite extraordinary."
Little is known about Dempsey although he travelled widely in Britain painting ordinary tradesmen, limbless veterans of the Napoleonic wars, beggars and the insane - and depicting them warts and all.
Even less is known about how the paintings came to be in Australia. They were donated to the museum in 1956 by one CE Docker but not considered very interesting. Eventually museum staff forgot they even existed.
There are no paintings by Dempsey in the collections of Tyne & Wear Museums, although evidently he did visit the North-East.
But Alex Thirlaway, museum assistant for art at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, who specialises in the period, had heard of Dempsey and was intrigued by the Tasmania discovery.
He said: "I associate the man with early 19th-Century pictures of working people - fairly small and straightforward vignettes really.
"I can't remember exactly where I saw his name but it may have been at one of the local auctions."
Paintings such as Dempsey's were interesting, he explained, because they showed the new phenomenon of the "urban proletariat", a product of the Industrial Revolution as people moved from the countryside to the towns.
In most paintings of the period, the poor were only depicted as a moral object lesson, warning, for instance, against the evils of alcohol.
Mr Thirlaway said many such people didn't start to emerge as individuals until they appeared in the novels of Charles Dickens.