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P3145-2 Photographic print, mounted stereoview George Street Sydney, paper / albumen / silver / ink, published by William Hetzer, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1858-1860. Click to enlarge.

George Street, Sydney

  • 1858-1860
This photograph was published in one of the earlier sets of William Hetzer's stereoviews, and his blind stamp can be seen imprinted on the right-hand side of the mount. It is a view of the east side of George Street, just down from the Post Office. The shadows suggest the image was taken in the afternoon, and as we can see the awnings have al been erected except the two at the base of the picture. This may be due to Hetzer requesting them taken down as he took this shot from the window of this building.

Towards the centre of the image we can just make out the signage of Edward Curtis, painter and paper hanger. Next door is, Walker and Jones Jewellers, and further down the street is, George Heath the chemist, William Piddington Bookseller and Stationer and Henry Betrand the dentist.

In 1850 William Hetzer arrived in Sydney, with his wife Thekla, where they immediately set up a photographic studio at 15 Hunter Street. Hetzer initially specisalised in calotypes but soon adopted the new collodion based positive/negative processes, like the ambrotype and albumen prints, which were appearing in the early 1850s.

In 1858 Hetzer embarked on what is now his best known enterprise, the publication of a set of 36 albumen prints taken with a stereo-view camera. The success of the first series encouraged Hetzer to keep publishing Sydney views and by 1859 he had over a 60 different views. Hetzer's views of Sydney - "... its harbour, principal buildings, streets and neighbouring scenery, &c." were among the earliest outdoor photographs taken in Sydney. The sets sold well and Hetzer continued to publish sets of stereo-views of Sydney and its harbour, right up until 1863.

In 1867, Hetzer left Australia and returned to England, auctioning off his photographic equipment, and about 3500 registered negatives, to the photographer Joseph Degotardi.

For more information please see attached Powerhouse Museum Theme, 'Early Photographs of Sydney by William Hetzer.'

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, October 2008


Object No.


Object Statement

Photographic print, mounted stereoview George Street Sydney, paper / albumen / silver / ink, published by William Hetzer, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1858-1860

Physical Description

Photographic print, mounted stereoview George Street Sydney, paper / albumen / silver / ink, published by William Hetzer, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1858-1860

A stereoview photographic print consisting of two black and white images that have been taken simultaneously. The prints have been mounted next to one another on a card. The images show an empty George Street in Sydney. The street is lined with three storey buildings, most of which have canvas awnings out the front shading the footpath below. Street lamps can be seen on either side of the street. 'E CURTISS' can be seen written on the front of one of the buildings. An oval shaped trademark can be seen impressed into the front of the mount to the right of the images. There is handwritten text on the back of the mount. The images and mount have discoloured due to foxing.


Text in impressed trademark on front of mount reads 'W HETZER / SYDNEY'. Handwritten text in ink on the back of the mount reads 'George St / Herald office'.



175 mm



  • 1858-1860


A stereo photograph is comprising two photographs, one taken as the left eye sees the view and another slightly offset as the right eye would see a view. These photographs are mounted on a card which is then fitted into a viewer. The viewer allows the brain to superimpose the two images, imitating the three dimensional stereovision of the human eye.

Stereo photographs are essentially the combination of two inventions of the 1830s. Sir Charles Wheatstone announced the first of these in 1838; it was an optical viewer that could combine two specially developed three-dimensional drawings that took into account the slight variation between the right and the left eye. The second occurred in 1839 when two different photographic processes, the 'daguerreotype' by Louis Daguerre and the 'Talbotype' or 'Calotype' by Henry Fox Talbot, were announced to the world.

In the 1840s Sir Charles Wheatstone began experimenting with Talbot's process which enabled him to place two slightly offset photographic images in his viewer. The success of these experiments inspired a Scotsman, Sir David Brewster, to announce in 1849 his modification of the stereo format, a portable viewing device called a lenticular stereoscope. It was Brewster's stereoscope which defined the standard for the new format and which was popularised from the early 1850s.

Geoff Barker, August 2009.

William Darrah, 'The World of Stereographs', W. Darrah, 1997
Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, 'The History of Photography', Thames and Hudson, 1955, 253

Cite this Object


George Street, Sydney 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 January 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=George Street, Sydney |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 January 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}