An albumen paper studio portrait photograph (a Paris panel, image size 213 x 139 mm, on the original mount 250 x 175 mm) of the cricketer 'regarded as the world's premier all-rounder at the end of the nineteenth century'
The bottom margin of the gilt-edged card is heavily embossed with the details of the studio of Foster & Martin, 262-4 Collins Street, Melbourne. Davies and Stanbury (1985) record him at that address between 1891 and 1896, which accords with the internal evidence (namely, the estimated age of the subject!). A relaxed Giffen is seated on a mock balustrade against a generic painted backdrop, with a ball in his right hand; a cricket bat leans against the balustrade. The top left-hand corner of the mount and image are inscribed and signed in ink ('Faithfully Yours Geo Giffen'). At some stage, a mat board had been attached to the margins of the mount; it had been cut around the inscription in a saw-tooth profile. The mat has been removed, resulting in trifling surface blemishes to the mount and along a two-millimetre strip on the left and right margins of the photograph, and the inscribed area is now a little darker than the rest of the mount. Notwithstanding, the item is in excellent condition.
George Giffen (1859-1927) made five tours to England between 1882 and 1896, in a career of 31 Tests (including four as captain); he declined to tour on another two occasions. His first-class career spanned 27 years (1877-1903); he performed the match double of a century and ten wickets no fewer than nine times; he became the first Australian to reach the Test double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets, and he remains the only Australian with 10,000 runs and 1000 wickets in first-class cricket (information from Martin-Jenkins, 1995 and OCAC, 1996). Any Giffen material is exceedingly uncommon; signed material is of the utmost rarity.