Australian Museum, College Street, Sydney

Made 1860-1863

This photograph of the Australian Museum was published by William Hetzer in more than one set of stereoviews. Thus although the card was physically printed between 1860 and 1863 it is likely that photograph was taken earlier, probably between 1858 and 1860.

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 pr...


Object No.


Physical Description

Photographic print, mounted stereoview of the Australian Museum College 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 a sandstone building featuring two ornate columns around the entrance. Trees can be seen surrounding the building. A woman and a man can be seen walking down the footpath in the foreground of the image. 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 'Museum'.



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


Australian Museum, College Street, Sydney 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 18 June 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Australian Museum, College Street, Sydney |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=18 June 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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