Post Office, George Street, Sydney

Made 1860-1863

This photograph of the old Post Office in George Street was published in one of the later sets of William Hetzer’s stereoviews. The long exposure time could however suggest an earlier date. It is also possible that the photograph was taken by a different photographer, or was even possibly a deliberate ploy by Hetzer to emphasis its instantaneous nature.

The photograph was taken early in the morning, as we can see awnings are still being erected along George Street. On the steps of the Post Offi...


Object No.


Physical Description

Photographic print, mounted stereoview of Post Office George Street Sydney, paper / albumen / silver / ink, published by William Hetzer, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1860-1863

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 the Post Office, a colonnaded sandstone building, on George Street in Sydney. Canvas awnings can be seen in front of several buildings down from the Post Office. There are several groups of people on the footpath and in the middle of the street. A horse and carriage can be seen in the foreground. 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.


Text in impressed trademark on front of mount reads 'W HETZER / SYDNEY'. Handwritten text on the back of the card reads 'Post Office [George Street]'.



175 mm



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


Post Office, George Street, Sydney 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Post Office, George Street, Sydney |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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