An album of 36 original vintage albumen paper photographs, mainly full-page plates of Adelaide and surroundings from the early 1870s
The plates are mounted on the rectos only of card leaves in a contemporary full leather album; the album is a little worn at the extremities; the first leaf is moderately foxed and marked, a few other leaves are a little foxed, and there is light scattered foxing and trifling marks to some of the other mounts, but overall the album is very presentable, with the plate content in excellent condition.
The first twenty-five full-plate photographs (approximately 175 x 220 mm or the reverse) comprise eight views of substantial city buildings, three city streetscapes, five Botanic Gardens scenes, eight views in the Adelaide Hills (five of settlements, three of waterfalls), and an important image taken at St Peter's College in 1872 (see below). There are also eleven photographs (six full-plate, the others approximately 135 x 210 mm each) taken at Tarrawatta and Collingrove, the Angas family properties in the Barossa Valley. There are six of Collingrove homestead and environs, including St Faith's Church (built in 1874); well-fed cattle are the main feature of another four of them. The people shown in five of them are most probably family members, with the last image - of three young women on horseback, sitting side-saddle - particularly resonant. Henry Davis (1831/2-1878) is recorded in Davies and Stanbury's 'The Mechanical Eye in Australia', Joan Kerr's 'Dictionary of Australian Artists ... to 1870', and Robinson and Zagala's 'A Century in Focus: South Australian Photography, 1840s-1940s' (2007). The latter notes that he was 'manager and principal photographer of the Adelaide Photographic Company from 1866, [and] became a leading views photographer in Adelaide until Samuel Sweet's domination of this field in the late 1870s [the time of Davis's death].... Apart from his album, 'Views in South Australia' [in the Art Gallery of South Australia collection], which contains fifty scenic photographs, including the Botanic Gardens, rural bridges, waterfalls, gullies ... few of Davis's views are known today. Many photographs and negatives were destroyed in studio fires - firstly in 1870, and then in 1879 after his death'. We attribute this album to Davis based on examples of his work in the collections of both the State Library and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Not least, this album contains the wonderful image, 'Cricket, St Peter's College (Poonindie Batting), 1872', reproduced in Robinson and Zagala, with a full-page description (pages 84-85). The photograph is attributed to Davis thus: it was 'taken by a photographer from the Adelaide Photographic Company, probably Henry Davis, a part-owner and principal photographer of the company at that time'. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a few words will add immensely to underlining the importance of this picture: 'The match in progress is between St Peter's College and a team of Aboriginal cricketers from Poonindie Training Institution, near Port Lincoln'. This match, in November 1872, 'marked the beginning of annual Poonindie vs St Peter's College matches, which were played alternately in Adelaide and Poonindie until at least 1876'.