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85/1286-528 Glass plate negative, full plate, 'Panning for Gold', glass, unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923. Click to enlarge.

Panning for Gold

Made by Unknown (person), 1880-1923.

This image shows gold miners at an unknown location probably in New South Wales. Once ore was brought to the surface, it would be sieved to remove larger material and placed in the box-like cradle adjacent to the windlass a hand powered winch used to haul ore up the shaft). Water would then be added and the cradle rocked to separate the gold from the remaining sand, gravel and other debris.

This photographic negative was taken by an un-attributed photographer between the late nineteenth centur...


Object No.


Object Statement

Glass plate negative, full plate, 'Panning for Gold', glass, unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923

Physical Description

Silver gelatin dry plate glass negative in landscape format, depicting nine men and various items of mining equipment next to a shaft with a windlass. Equipment includes a sluice box, sieves and wheelbarrow. One man is wearing a trooper's uniform. Several men are dressed in suits. A soft negative of this image is stored with the glass plate.

68/37 Tyrrell Inventory Number, no studio number.



215 mm



This negative is not attributed to a particular studio. The Tyrrell Collection of glass plate negatives dates from approximately 1880-1923.


Unknown (person) 1880-1923



This photograph is one of 795 un-attributed photographs which are part of a larger collection of 7,900 negatives once owned by Sydney bookseller James Tyrrell. Also included in the Powerhouse Museum's Tyrrell collection are around 2900 photographs published by the famous Australian studio of Kerry & Co. (85/1284) and around 1300 glass plates by the Sydney based photographer Henry King (85/1285).

While these images remain un-attributed at present it is likely that some of them were in fact part of the Charles Kerry and Henry King collections purchased by Tyrrell around 1929. There is a series of World War I portraits which have the names of the soldiers etched onto the negative but which are not credited to any particular studio but which may have been taken by Kerry & Co. studio.

Amongst this group are photographs of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taken after both Kerry and King had died, and acquired at a later date either by Tyrrell or somehow included in the material from Australian Consolidated Press.

James Tyrrell used the images by Kerry & Co. and Henry King to produce his own booklets and views of New South Wales but although full of iconic Australian images, the collection does not appear to have been fully utilised by Tyrrell.

In 1980 the collection was purchased by Australian Consolidated Press who published a limited series of 2000 contact prints from the collection. Housed in boxes copies of these were given to the State Library of New South Wales and the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney.

In 1985 Australian Consolidated Press donated the collection to the Powerhouse Museum. The collection at this time consisted of 7,903 glass plate negatives and 7,916 contact positive prints. Of these 493 glass plates were damaged but usable and 13 plates totally broken.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, December, 2008

Cite this Object


Panning for Gold 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 September 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Panning for Gold |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 September 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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