Stratford Historical Society and Museum

News from the Stratford Historical Society and Museum, in Stratford, Gippsland, Victoria. We are open Tuesdays from 10am to 3pm, and the fourth Sunday of the month from 2pm to 4pm. Our postal address is P.O. Box 145, Stratford, 3862.

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Location: Victoria, Australia

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Opaltype Photographs


We are getting a little interested in opaltype photographs, and wonder if any of the other collections who read our blog have any in their collections? Typically they are printed on white "milk glass", and often hand-tinted with colours. As they are usually copies from photographs such as cabinet cards, they often have hand-painted detail such as that shown here on Mrs Maxwell's shoulder, and on Mr Maxwell's lapels. This appears to be a compilation from two photographs, probably not even taken at the same time, and the person wearing the darker outfit will be overlapped in front of the one wearing the lighter outfit.

However there are many other versions. If you go to the photographs site on Trove, and type "opaltype" into the search field, you can see a number of others.

Who are they?

They are believed to be James Maxwell, born in England 1820- buried in Maffra 1904, and his second wife Elizabeth Anne Symons, Born 1830- buried in Maffra 1911. They had 13 children.

We really want to identify the studio where this opaltype was produced - has anyone one in a similar pose? With a label on the back? They were typically sold by door-to-door salesmen, who collected the original photographs, and sent them off to a studio - possibly in Melbourne. Similar ones were also ordered from salsemen that had convex glass covering them. We don't have any like that, but have seen them around. Anyone able to name  studio for them?

Late edit: Thanks to Lenore, for pointing us to this opaltype, in the State Library of South Australia, where the lighter outfit has been superimposed on the darker outfit behind. Is that technique called "dodging", where they wave a little fly swat on the dark part as it is printed, to blend it out? Then the next photo is printed on the lefthand side?  But you can still see his jacket through the lighter print. Possibly the copy negatives had the backgrounds painted out, then the whole background was hand-touched onto the opaltype.

We are getting a little interested in the firm of Dimond Bros, who were in Richmond and various other places, doing opaltypes, with "country collectors" on bicycles. Has anyone any work by them? here is another nice opaltype by them, also in the State Library of South Australia.

Late Edit: here is a label for Dimond bros, from another Gippsland collection. They did have a Sydney studio at some stage, but it doesn't appear here.



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