Texta-style illustration of packing boxes, lipstick, a house, tie, a hand holding money, a 'sold' sign, a suitcase covered in stickers, a high-heeled shoe, a key, a staircase and the word 'sell'

For this edition of Notes, we're taking our cue from a word that carries no small degree of ambivalence: sell.

Think hustling, hawking, peddling and trading. What is it to sell up or sell out? What do you lose – or gain – when you sell your soul, your youth, your image, your ... stuff? How are we thrilled and tainted by the prospect of big and small sales?

In 'Sell', Masako Fukui reflects on the first Japanese women who came to Australia in the 19th Century, 'selling spring'. Scott Limbrick asks what happened to the stigma of selling out. Michele Lee contemplates the link between big sales and life milestones. And we meet an anonymous big-bank financial adviser who quit his job amid the crushing sales culture.

And, with stories from our archives, delve into corruption, crowdfunding, philanthrophy, advertising and the fate of capitalism itself.