Photograph of a Clyde Engineering seed grading machine

Made 1900-1940

This photograph shows a steel-wheeled farm wagon carrying a seed grader made by The Clyde Engineering Co. Ltd, a large Australian firm in Granville, a suburb of Sydney. This firm made agricultural machinery, engineering equipment, and railway rolling stock during the first half of the twentieth century.

Wheat has been a facet of Australian agriculture since the First Fleet arrived in Sydney in 1788. Wheat can be grown in a variety of soils and conditions but early varieties were susceptible to ...


A rectangular black and white silver gelatin glass pate negative in landscape format. The image depicts a seed grader mounted on a Clyde steel wheeled farm wagon and driven by an internal combustion engine. There is a transparent sleeve that accompanies the negative with a rectangular sticker on the right hand corner which reads 'No. 903 / Wheat Grader / Agric. Dept." within the red squares.


164 mm
215 mm
1.5 mm


The Clyde Engineering Company photograph collection is made up of around 1300 ½ plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 triacetate negatives.

The tri-acetate collection appears to date from the late 1930s through to 1960s the glass plates from around 1900 -1950. Most of the photographs are commissioned works taken around the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney. Others are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books. These are hard to accurately date it is almost certain that the collection is the work of numerous photographers; unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Glass plates were first used to support photographic emulsions in the late 1840s and remained in continuous use right through until the middle of the twentieth century. While the earliest plates supported 'dry' and 'wet' collodion emulsions these were replaced with silver gelatin emulsions in the 1880s. Unlike earlier plates these were mass produced on a huge scale and were capable of fast speeds even at ½ and full plate sizes.

One drawback of this process was that larger plate sizes required a correspondingly large camera to fit the plate. These were relatively cumbersome and when you take into consideration the weight of the glass plates it is no surprise to find they were mainly used for studio and commercial work. However they were still favoured by many professionals for a long time after roll film was introduced by Kodak in the late 1880s. This was because the large plates could be more easily worked on for masking and their contact prints provided better results than some of the early enlarging equipment

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, February, 2008

Gernsheim, H. and Gernsheim A., The History of Photography from the Earliest Use of the Camera Obscura in the Eleventh Century up to 1914. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1955.

Cite this Object

Photograph of a Clyde Engineering seed grading machine 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Photograph of a Clyde Engineering seed grading machine |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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