Mechanised shearing was developed by Frederick Wolseley and associates in Victoria between 1868 and 1885. It was demonstrated around the country in 1886, much to the dismay of blade shearers who thought fewer men would be needed in the sheds. A shearers' union that formed at the time became the basis of what is now the Amalgamated Workers Union.
Mechanised shears changed the wool industry. Shearing became easier and faster, sheep suffered fewer injuries, the yield of wool per sheep increased, and the fleece was cut at a uniform length. Flocks expanded as the business became more profitable, which meant that eventually there was more work for shearers.
Sandra McEwen, Curatorial, 2008
This photographic negative was published by the Sydney firm Charles Kerry & Co. and is part of the Powerhouse Museum's Tyrrell collection which contains over 2,900 glass plate negatives by Kerry & Co. Although a few appear to be from the 1880s most were produced between 1892 and 1917. Over this period, and well into the early 1900s, prints from these negatives appeared in many Australian publications and albums of views. In 1903 the company began producing postcards from these negatives, further establishing the images as some of the most significant and best known early views of New South Wales.
Some of the more significant themes covered by the collection include; views of New South Wales, Queensland, country towns, Sydney, Indigenous Australians, the South Pacific, rural life, native flora and fauna, and sentimental views. In addition there are a number of significant events from the 1900s covered by the collection including; Embarkation of troops for the Boer War, Hordens fire and the Inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901, the arrival of the Great White Fleet and the Burns verses Johnson boxing match at Rushcutters Bay in 1908.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, November 2008
David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981
Valdon, 'Our Artistic Workers; Mr. George Bell', Australian Photographic Journal, Volume 17, Number 199, December 21, 1908