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


A web site dedicated to Keast Burke


Beaufoy Merlin

Keast Burke's article on Beaufoy Merlin in the A.P.-R #3, 1953




Gold and Silver

By Keast Burke


Being the story of the association of Bernard Otto Holtermann with Beaufoy Merlin and with Charles Bayliss and of the photographic collection which resulted therefrom.

"In the great days of the gold rushes, many a photographer left behind studio and darkroom to join in the great search - but sure Holtermann must have been the only gold-miner who neglected his gold-mining in favour of photgraphy. He can be ranked perhaps as Australia's first and greatest amateur of photography, using that word in its original French sense. He liked the art for its own sake yet reallsed perhaps more than he knew, its great documentary potentialities. Furthermore, he did not hesitate to spend a vast sum upon a great series of photographs designed to convey to the world at large the story of the colony's extraordinary material progress. He believed that by doing so he could, in some small measure, repay his adopted landfor the many favours it had conjurred upon him."


The quotation is from some unpublished mss. by Jack Cato in connection with his forthcoming work "The Story of the Camera, in Australia."



On one fateful day during the winter of 1922, two distinguished Egyptologists stood outside a doorway in Egypt's famed Valley of the King. For them it was an anxious moment, knowing that that doorway had been sealed for three thousand five hundred years. Would this be just another disappointment?-with nothing disclosed but a few discarded trifles left behind'in haste by some early tomb-robber?

The two were not to know that soon they would be gazing in awe and in rapture upon a storehouse of ancient cultural treasures the like of which the world had never before seen.

Some thirty years later two Sydneysiders were destined to stand outside a small suburban backyard shed; it had been locked for more than a generation, its contents almost forgotten, its key long since lost. Their anticipatory feelings were hardly on the same plane as their predecessors but at any rate there was to be no doubt as to the eventual value of their discovery-the dramatic revelation of a life and culture almost as forgotten as Tutankhamen's.

Here, neatly stored in fitted cedar boxes were incredible numbers of negatives, records that were in due course to disclose every detail of the lives of our gold-fields pioneers-the men, the women and the children, their homes, their business enterprises, and their mining shafts, the populous towns and larger cities.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Of all the arts of mankind, that of the photographer is inevitably both the most lasting and the most perishable. Marble and canvas possess some degree of physical strength but the cameraman must entrust his treasures to perishable paper and film or fragile glass. An oil painting is likely to be treasured as an heirloom or possible "Old Master," but only too often are old photographs "just old photographs" to someone charged with "tidying-up." Occasionally Fate intervenes, as she is also so apt to do in the lives of mortals, but seldom has she been so watchful as in the present instance; those who have followed this story since its inception still have some little difficulty in believing that it is all true, that this marvellous thing can possibly have happened-and the reader may well share that view. It is a long story and one dependent on many, many fortunate coincidences-each one more astonishing than the preceding. But of all these happenings we recognise as the most important the part played by photographer Beaufoy Merlin.




Chapter One       Beaufoy Merlin


Of Beaufoy Merlin we wish we could tell more than we can. After eighty years the written records have become scanty. We have his portrait, made perhaps a year before his death; it shows a sensitive, artistic nature, yet one not lacking in purpose and driving force. Above all, we have his life's work - or, at any rate, a substantial portion of it. The images carried on those thousands of carte-de-visite wet plate negatives show that he was a born photographer, one who combined an excellent technique with a documentary outlook that is astonishingly "modern" by to-day's view. One thing is certain, and that is Merlin's photography was not just a matter of "bread-and-butter"; he was a born artist and one who always gave of his best.

Henry Beaufoy Merlin was born in 1830, the son of an English chemist by name Frederick Merlin - the Beaufoy being perhaps his mother's maiden name; by the time he arrived in Australia he was nineteen years of age. Of his young manhood we know little, but it can be suggested that his interest in photography arose from the family association with chemical science, for in those days almost every chemist dabbled in photography. That interest may also have been reinforced from another quarter.

There is a strong family tradition of association with Ballarat, and it is certainly a fact that there were Merlin families living in that city as far back as the mid-fifties. The Post Office Directory for 1868 shows an entry for T. Merlin, Photographer. It may well be that these folk were relatives and that they afforded hospitality to young Beaufoy when he first landed.

He appears to have established himself as a field operator under the trade-name of the American & Australasian Photographic Company and to have travelled throughout Victoria. On these trips he made numerous records of the scenery, but his specialty seems to have been house-by-house photography. The scheme was to give a few day's notice to the householders of the area so that they could array themselves, ready for the camera, in their 'Sunday-best.'

In 1863, then being thirty-three years of age, he married Louisa Elliott Foster and there were four children of the marriage, all of whom appear to have had interesting and adventurous careers-but that is another story.

Our first documentary information regarding Merlin comes from a Vice-Regal letter still in the possession of family descendants. As was the custom of the photographers of those days, he had presented the Governor of Victoria, Sir John Henry Manners-Sutton, with an album of photographs, and it is clear that this letter of acknowledgment is no perfunctory routine, but one of real appreciation. The date is October, 1869, and it shows Merlin to have been well established as a travelling photographer; of value to us is the fact that it refers to Merlin's plans for the extension of his sphere of activities to other parts of Australia.

Government Offices, Melbourne. 7th April, 1869.

Dear Sir,
I am directed to convey to you the thanks of His Excellency the Governor for the very handsome book of Photographs which you have presented to him, and which he especially values as containing so many interesting views of the places which he visited in his tour through the Western District last year. The Governor desires me to request that you will let me know the name of your agent in Melbourne through whom His Excellency may be able to procure copies of the views which you propose to take in other parts of Australia.

Faithfully yours, (Sgd.) J. S. ROTHWELL, A.D.C.

Whilst exact dates remain uncertain, everything appears to have moved along as Merlin had planned. Some time in 1870, with the Victorian interests of "A. & A." in the hands of a very young but capable assistant, and one whom he had personally trained, Merlin set forth for that wider field which he had so long envisaged. We pause to wonder whether he could have had any anticipation of just what lay in store for him-a bare three years of life-span, but three years of crowded activity and of positive achievement. He could have had little inkling that his work in New South Wales would establish him as perhaps one of the greatest documentary photographers of all time.

The Sydney directories of 1871-1872 provide us with some information, listing the American & Australasian Photographic Company as being in business at 324 George Street, at 377 Riley St., and also at 11 Barrack St. Apart from that there is internal evidence to show that during portions of 1870-1871 he was carrying on with his outdoor photography in Sydney. Of special interest is the picture of the General Post Office, showing the building just completed, the scaffolding having been removed - this would be in 1870. Other photographs depict familiar harbour scenes, some of them most pleasantly 'pictorial' in their treatment, while others show the arrival and docking of sailing vessels.

But even as Merlin was setting up his 10" x 12" wet-plate camera along the quiet foreshores and on harbour vantage points, the tenor of life was destined to be disturbed. The cry was once again Gold! Exactly twenty years after those first eager rushes to the Ophir and the Turon, the tempo was again quickening all through the area. And then there was the new field at Gulgong, appearing even more promising.

The principal gold-bearing areas of the day in N.S.W. lay approximately within (or around) the triangle Bathurst-Orange-Mudgee, the first-named place being about one hundred and fifty miles west of Sydney. Though he must have had many predecessors, the credit for the first discovery of gold goes to Edward Hammond Hargraves, who found payable gold in a creck (which locality he subsequently named Ophir) about nine miles from Orange. The Turon area is to the north of Bathurst, the principal centres being Sofala, Hill End and Tambaroora. Gulgong lies further north, some sixteen miles beyond Mudgee.

Photographers, like everyone else, must live, and it is not surprising to learn that Merlin's caravan was soon carrying his cameras and equipment along that well-worn road that runs westward across the Blue Mountains. Let us pause a moment as we travel this same route at fifty miles an hour by car or air-conditioned express, to think back to the days of horse travel. Beyond the rail-heads, of course, an efficient service was offered by famous coaching companies; by changing horses every ten or fourteen miles, some fifty or sixty miles a day could be covered according to the terrain. For the private traveller and the teamster it was a quite different proposition.

Normally he had but the one set of animals and these had to be properly cared for at intervals during the day and at nightfall; he was, therefore, fortunate if he was able to maintain an average of twenty miles a day or thereabouts. There was a substantial degree of expense involved too. As today, those who provided food and drink and accommodation for man and beast had to be reimbursed. Special services might be required as well-harness to be repaired, swingle trees to be replaced and horseshoes to be re-nailed.

Merlin's first picture-making stop appears to have been at Hartley on the Cox River, across the mountains. Of that Hartley series just two are reproduced, but those two are more than sufficient for the realisation of his outstanding photographic ability. Everything was grist that came to Merlin's mill; every scene was a subject for him. Normally there had to be human beings in the field of view; then, as to-day, people were possessed with a deep appreciation of their personal likenesses and Merlin's posing ability was always gentle, persuasive, artistic and confident. His sitters, despite the necessity for a 'hold it' of some five or ten seconds, were always naturally grouped with little sense of strain. So much for the demands of business; in addition, there were many which were obviously taken solely for his own artistic pleasure.

And now on to Gulgong. just why he selected this new field instead of one or the other of the more obvious three Turon towns is not quite clear; he was perhaps deterred by the latter's comparative inaccessibility. Coming as he did from the established cities of Melbourne and Sydney, Gulgong must have made a great impact on his ever-susceptible 'documentary' outlook. The town was indeed a strange one and we to-day, as we study Merlin's photographs, can share something of his reactions. The Gulgong of 1871 was veritably an American gold-fields town.

"Gulgong was certainly a rough place when I visited it, but not quite so rough as I had expected. There was an hotel there, at which I got a bedroo- to myself, though but a small one, and made only ofslabs. But a gorgeously grand edifice was being built over our heads at the time, the old inn being still kept on while the new inn was being built on the same site. The inhabited part of the town consisted of two streets at right angles to each other, in each of which every habitation and shop had probably required but a few days for its erection. The fronts of the shops were covered with large advertisements - the names and praises of the traders - as is customary now with all newfitngled marts: but the place looked more like a fair than a town - perhaps like one of those fairs which used to be temporary towns and to be continued for weeks - such as some of us have seen at Amsterdam and at Leipsic. But with this difference-that in the cities named the old houses are seen at the back of the new booths, whereas at a gold rush there is nothing behind. Everything needful, however, seemed to be at hand. There were bakers, butchers, grocers and dealers in soft goods. There were public - houses and banks in abundance. There was an auctioneer's establisLment, at which I attended the sale of horses and carts."

(Australia and New Zealand, by Anthony Trollope. Chapman & Hall, London, 1873.)

Those were the days when the miners and those who catered for their economic needs followed the gold strikes around the world; as the Australian fields came into the news at the very time when the Californian fields were slackening, the direction in which world interest turned is obvious. Clearly there was many a skilful carpenter aboard those Pacific ships and soon those tradesmen were busily at work.

For the main part they would care to work the wet-plate process in the field the year round, through burning summers and piercing winters. Merlin possessed, of course, that necessary asset, a wet-plate coating caravan; in fact, at one stage he appears to have had at least two (perhaps three). One was constructed on a light buggy "chassis," while the other was a two-horse vehicle of more substantial build. Both had permanent false roofs which permitted a current of air to pass between the roof and the coating chamber-a most desirable precaution. And, of course, Merlin was not working single-handed in his enterprise. He had a driver for the caravan - we see him in many of the photographs, standing by with a spare dark slide in his hands. Later on, he had at least two assistants; their services would be needed for studio operating, plate-coating and for floating and printing the large sheets of albumen paper.

Merlin's sphere of activities also covered the smaller satellite villages that had grown up at the various mining fields around Gulgong. Where for generations cattle had grazed peacefully, there was now a population larger perhaps than that of the Adelaide of its day, and it dwelt in what we to-day would call "shanty towns"-but let us not be'deceived-those people lived in homes of bark because no other building materials were available. Most of these settlements took their names from the rich alluvial leads near which they grew up. Such were Black Lead just northeast of the town, and Home Rule and Canadian Lead about six miles to the south-east. And there were many others. All of these were visited in due course and photographs obtained of dwellings, hotels and business premises of every description.

Nor did he fail to visit the diamond fields on the Cudgegong River (five miles to the west of Gulgong) and first-rate, even by today's standards, were the pictures he brought back from there. He photographed by the hundreds mining shafts and their miners, hopeful or successful as the case might be; and the results appeared to sell very well. That we know for certain for the precise Merlin has left us his sales records, these being carefully marked on a slip of paper glued to each and every negative. Of the mining subjects, perhaps the most valuable for its record value and news interest is one of the two which we have reproduced, for it shows the happenings regularly associated with a new "strike." Other photographs show, in actual operation, a variety of types of almost forgotten mining equipment as, for instance, the various devices for ventilating-a definite necessity, for many of these shafts descended hundreds of feet into the earth.

"Of course, having come to Gulgong, I had to see the mines, and I went down the shaft of one, 150 feet deep, with my foot in the noose of a rope. Having offered to descend, I did not like to go back from my word when the moment came; but as the light of the day faded from my descending eyes, and as I remembered that I was being lowered by the operations of a horse who might take it into his brutish head to lower me at any rate he pleased - or not to lower me at all, but to keep me suspended in that dark abyss-I own that my heart gave way, and that wished I had been less courageous. But I went down, and I came up again - and I found six or seven men work! It the bottom of the hole. I afterwards saw the alluvial dirt brought up from some other hole, puddled and ing hed and the gold extracted. When extracted it was carried away in a tin pannikin-which I thought was detracted much from the splendour of the result.

"Of the men around me some were miners working for wages, and some were shareholders, each probably with a large stake in the concern. I could not in the least tell which was which. They were all dressed alike, and there in was nothing of the master and the man in the tone of their conversation. Among those present at the washing up, there were two Italians, an American, a German, and a Scotchman, who I learned were partners in the property. The important task of conducting the last wash, of throwing away for ever the stones and dirt from which the gold had sunk, was on this occasion confided to the hands of the American. The gold was carried away in a parmikin by the German."

(Australia and New Zealand, by Anthony Trollope-Chapman & Hall, London, 1873.)

Towards the end of the year a most novel assignment came his way. He had always been recognised as one of Australia's leading outdoor photographers (in those days there were not very many of them), and, in consequence, when the New South Wales Government of the day required a photographer for The Victorian-New South Wales Eclipse Expedition of 1871, it did not hesitate to select Merlin for the job. This was the total eclipse of the sun of December 12th, the occasion being Australia's first great effort in that branch of scientific enterprise.

The site chosen for the observation was Cape Sidmouth, in Northern Queensland - half - way between Cape York and Cape Flattery. It was midsummer and the temperatures were unexpectedly high. It was 140 degrees in the dark tent; at noon the sun was vertically overhead and no shade could be found for the tent, while on every side there was glare from the dazzling coral strand. No wonder that, on many occasions, Merlin's plates dried out before he could get them into their processing solutions. As for the eclipse, rain clouds obscured it for the whole of its totality excepting a tantalising second or two. However, Merlin brought back some interesting locality pictures, including one of the Queensland coast that he obtained from the expedition steamer; the latter was satisfactory enough to lead Merlin to place before the Victorian Government some eminently practical (bilt long ahead of their time) suggestions for the use of photography in coastal survey work.

The early autumn saw him back in Gulgong. The evenings were drawing in and business may well have been becoming slack, with new subjects for photography to be found only in the more distant south-eastern leads. And then, one afternoon perhaps, Merlin was approached by a wellattired stranger, his waistcoat adorned by a heavy gold chain carrying two miniatures or lucky charms; this person he had never before observed in the streets of Gulgong. The visitor was a shortish, rather sad-looking individual with a sparse beard, yet very much a man of ideas and practical enterprise, and one who had survived many vicissitudes.

After a few mutual words, it appeared that the two could meet on common ground. The stranger was very much interested in photography - and he was a wealthy man; in fact, a very successful gold-miner. Merlin, on the other hand, was the practical photographer in search of new avenues for his enterprise. What better project could a wealthy miner undertake than to arrange for the effective photographic coverage of Australia's progress? What fine publicity for Australia (and for the wealthy miner) such a collection of photographs would be when exhibited in the cities of the world? No sooner discussed than it was all agreed upon.

Merlin would leave at once for Hill End and there establish a studio that would make available the regular A. & A. house-by-house and studio services. As soon as that was done he would commence work, as his patron's personal photographer, on the much broader scheme of picturing the greater cities of Australia's south-west. He would photograph, in the largest possible negative proportions, their streets, their public buildings and their industries. In this way the story of Australia's extraordinary material progress could be recorded and prepared for exhibition throughout the great centres of U.S.A. and the Continent.

Beaufoy Merlin appears to have reached Hill End in the autumn of 1872 and to have started operations immediately, but it is unlikely that he spent the whole of his time there in view of his interstate interests and the field undertaking referred to above. He probably left Hill End, for the last time, about March or April 1873, that fact being confirmed by his photography of the decorations arranged by the citizens for the visit of Sir Hercules Robinson, the State Governor, on March 11, 1873.

By the autumn of 1873 his health must have been failing rapidly and he returned to Sydney, spending his last days in one of those familiar two-storeyed terraces in Leichhardt. He passed away at the early age of forty-three of "an inflammation of the lungs," almost certainly tubercular in origin, on September 27, 1873, and was buried in the Church of England cemetery at Balmain.

And so, the Beaufoy Merlin story draws to its close. One cannot help thinking . . . if only he had known how magnificent was his work, how well preserved against the ravages of time would be his negatives and, finally, how well they would respond to modern sensitized papers and modern enlarging methods, giving 'contact quality' at 4 to 15 diameters. If only he could have seen the great travelling exhibition of his work and the interest it was destined to arouse throughout the world ....

* * * * * * * * * * *

Before we bid farewell to the old days, let us bring the background up-to-date. On the fields (and elsewhere ' ) a scattering of old men and women in their eighties and nineties are living today, most of them with keen minds, vivid recollections and a wealth of tales. The descendants of the miners are legion; in Sydney, as like as not, two out of every five at a luncheon table will tell you of their forbears of the Turon. Gulgong still stands, sharing with Mudgee the pastoral prosperity of the rich alluvial flats of the Cudgegong. Surprisingly enough, as one walks the characteristic narrow curving streets of the town, one notes on almost every hand buildings whose detail of construction bears undeniable evidence that their erection goes back to those first days when the throng of carpenters busily sawed and nailed the boards of pine into 'false fronts' of surprising variety. Quite a number of the buildings actually photographed by Merlin can be recognised without much difficulty, though, in most instances, their days are numbered. Incredibly enough, there is still one building which ante-dates to the gold-rush days by some ten years-it is the original accommodation house and posting station for the teams and other road travellers bound for the north-west.

Black Lead, just north of the railway line, remains a name on the map and many a high mullock heap is to be seen, mutely reminding us of the strenuous labours of the deep-lead miners.

At Home Rule, some six or seven miles to the south-west, digging is still in active progress, but all of it is for clay (of both the building and pottery varieties). Any of the locals will be happy to point out to you the very spot where four Irishmen found the first gold and without hesitation named their claim Home Ride.

Canadian Lead to its west is barely recognisable, for there the pits were shallow and mostly they have been filled in by the graziers.

Moving down to Tambaroora you will find it hard to reconstruct the town from a,few pine trees, a single chimney and one or two overgrown cemeteries.

Southwards across Fisher's Hill there is still a Hill End, and the wattles in their season still blaze in Golden Gully where the prospectors coming down from Hargraves met those coming up Oakey Creek from the Turon. What remains of the town dozes sleepily on its great Hawkins Hill spur high above the river. It enjoys a magnificent setting as the everchanging light plays on the slopes of the valley and on the river fifteen hundred feet below. The views are magnificent; there are many that say that the Split Rock outlook is the most beautiful in Australia. To the west, Sargent's Hill bleeds scarlet from a thousand erosion scars but the impression is softened by the rich greenery of the avenues of great shade trees planted 'by Beyers and Mayor Hodges, to say nothing of a generous sprinkling of orchard trees everywhere. Of the buildings photographed by Merlin, a handful have managed to survive the passage of time but to-day's observer is likely to be hard put to recognise some of them.

As for gold, one is more likely to encounter a boundary rider than a fossiker as one moves about the surrounding countryside. Nevertheless, a panful of gravel taken at random from any creek is likely to show a few colours in the dish. It is good fun, but undeniably strenuous; after washing half-a-dozen dishes most City dwellers would consider they had done a good day's work.

There is little local employment and it is difficult to see from whence could come any new enterprise. Hill End does not want a tourist industry and probably it is unlikely to have one. There are no golf links and there is plenty of better fishing than the Turon's. Casual walking is hardly to be encouraged by the steep slopes everywhere and the thousand unfilled, unfenced shafts would be something worse than a nightmare for parents. In any case, those fifty odd 'V.H.' miles from Bathurst will ever deter all but the most confident and well-equipped drivers.

But hope still runs strongly among those good people of Hill Endand we share those hopes . . .

(To be concluded in the May issue)




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.


18444: The Souters were reported the first chemists in Gulgong, and, incidentally, their "shingle" is still to be seen in Cleveland Street, Sydney. They also appear to have had established the branch in Home Rule which is here depicted. The goldfields' chemist shops were used as consulting rooms by visiting doctors, and on the left we may have the Dr. O'Connor referred to in the left-hand notice (as for Dr. Kelly, see below). The assistants were not members of the Souter family.


18037: Dr. Kefly seen outside his consulting rooms in Mayne Street, Gulgong, next door to Wood's "West End" Stores. Of especial interest is his window display, which comprises articulated hands and other bones and jars of coloured water adorned with astrological or similar emblems.


18787: Chemist Charley Bird had two stores, one in Gulgong and the other in Home Rule, as depicted here in a particularly fine technical shot. It effectively records the contents of his display window (trusses, cigars and sewing machines), the current supplement to the "Illustrated Sydney News," and the noticeboard for the town crier, "Matthew the Bellman". Charley, "the man with the big ear," is recorded as one of the town's personalities - "good company, clever amateur actor, and a champion at all kinds of card games."

18-, 18141, 18149, 18372: To select just four from scores of pictures of commercial establishments was a problem, but it is hoped that these four will convey something of the "frontier" atmosphere that was Gulgong's in the early 'seventies.





18781, 18772, 18672, 18603: Several hundreds of very informative pictures show us the residents of the goldfields standing outside their homes. These four are all Hill End subjects selected as being somewhat more "pictorial" than the earlier Gulgong ones, which were still in the stringy-bark era. We are specially impressed by the brave showing of the pioneer women folk, despite the incredible (to us) shortcomings in the way of home conveniences, to say nothing of the climatic variations to be expected from life on an exposed ridge three thousand feet above sea level.



18630: This one was selected for two reasons; first, for the trim freshness of the premises, and, secondly, for its obvious authenticity. The left-hand poster refers to the visit to Hill End of the Hon. H. Parkes and of the address which he planned for 5 p.m. on September 2nd, 1872, in the Public School grounds.



17758: This concluding reproduction tells its own story of Merlin's love of the great out-doors and of his intense artistic feeling.


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