Keast Burke
photographer, photo historian, editor of the Australian Photo-Review

 

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Beaufoy Merlin

Gold And Silver (Australasian Photo-Review #3 1953)

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The five-figure numbers are Merlin's index numbers as shown on the corresponding negatives.

17742: Here we see the familiar Hartley Court House as it was early in 1871. The central figure appears to be the P.M., Thomas Brown, who retired in the same year after sixteen years' service. The building was erected in 1837 and remained in active use as a court house for half a century.

 

18353: One of Gulgong's principal streets as it appeared early in 1871. The style of building-stringy-bark with "false-front" of pine-was characteristic of the period. On the extreme left we see the photographer's wet-plate caravan.

 

18401: Merlin's pictures of Gulgong, Black Lead and Home Rule are unique in their "earliness". We are shown Black Lead as it appeared in its first year, the other settlements as they stood in the first months of their existence. Only in Australia could the making of such a record be possible.

 

18629: This is Clarke St., Hill End, looking south-west from near the present Royal Hotel, as it appeared in the spring of 1872, when the town was at its heyday. Points of interest are: Merlin's assistant with spare darkslide; the signwriter at work on the signboard outside Manson's new store; the boggy patches in the streets showing the sites of old shafts; the premises of the Australian joint Stock Bank (the two-storey building at far end), with Beyer's cottage just to this side of it.

 

70046: The Mudgee road passing through Tambaroora, looking north from a -point near the original public school. The square brick building at the far end is - Salkeld's Royal Hotel; that with the twin gables is Arthur Correy's, baker and confectioner-the latter is reported as having "grub staked half the miners of the Dirt Holes". Tombaroora (31 miles north of Hill End) was declining in importance by this time (1872).

 

18264: From the mining angle this is perhaps the most interesting of the many scores of similar records. It is the perfect documentary, showing, as it does, all the events associated with a gold strike. On the left we see the red flag which the regulations stated must be hoisted for a week as soon as gold was found; then comes the syndicate of miners with the tallest of the group holding the dish in which four or five nuggets can be seen in the "tail"; next is the clerk from the mining warden's office (grasping a spade as though he himself had found the gold); on the right we see the butcher included by way of "local colour"; as a background, the forge (for the never-ending tool sharpening), and just behind it on the right the actual shaft and its tall whip-pole for horse-power hoisting.

 

18472: By way of contrast, this print shows a small claim on the Gulgong field on which work has just been commenced; the reason for selection was Merlin's fine groupings of the two sets of figures.

 

18144: Of the numerous groups of passers-by photographed outside hotels and business premises, this is perhaps the best for its admirable depiction of a cross section of Gulgong citizens. Here we are introduced to "mine host," to an upstanding police officer, a miner suffering from injuries received from a premature blast, and, most important of all, "Paddy". Paddy had been a circus clown in his younger life and was well known for his stage attitudes, his incomparable flow of language and his comical "Irishisms".

 

18715: One of the best of the Hill End groups. It was photographed outside Jenkyn's shoeing forge towards the southern end of Clarke Street about September, 1872. The various types of workers are represented, while to the right, slightly aloof, we are introduced to Holtermann himself. He is to be observed in many of the Hill End scenes.

 

18793: A feature of wet plate is its exceedingly fine-grain structure; in consequence, provided the image itself is sharp, enlargements to a degree of ten or fifteen times can readily be obtained. This picture,we believe, of the original Hudson Bros is a good example of the possibilities in this direction. The scene is of documentary interest as showing the complete stock of a typical builder's yard in 1872 galvanised iron, staircase uprights, and ready-made doors, Australian ovens and casks of nails with everything dumped just as it was unloaded from the bullock waggons.

 

18678: This was selected for reproduction for reasons similar to the preceding one. It is so technically excellent and so full of trade interest.


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