Box of opened unused dry gelatine glass plates made by Thomas Baker 1887-1888.
Thomas Baker was an Australian photographic entrepreneur, whose company dominated the Australian photographic manufacturing industry in the late 19th and early 20th century, and then merged with Kodak in 1908. This company is now known, over 100 years later, as Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd.
This artefact is the earliest photographic product in the museum's collection relating to Thomas Baker's manufacturing enterprise in Melbourne, and is one of the earliest glass plate products made in Australia that still exists, and as such is highly significant in the history of the photographic industry in Australia. It is the only product in the museum's collection that is branded as made by Thomas Baker, when he was operating as an individual - before he created the highly successful Baker & Rouse partnership. It is significant that this box of plates has survived for a period of almost 130 years.
These plates were manufactured just 3-4 years after Thomas Baker first started making glass photographic plates, and his product was still in a state of development, as is evident on the box label which states that the photographic plates were specially adapted for Australian use and were made using a new improved method to enhance their quality. Such manufacturing and marketing strategies were intended to to win over the market and establish his company as a successful element of the embryonic local photographic manufacturing industry.
Cardboard box with lid and base. The lid has a blue covering and a white label on top of this printed in black text. Box has red/brown tape or covering on sides where it was originally sealed. The rest of the box is raw cardboard. Inside the box is a packet of clear glass photographic plates contained in a black paper packet. One of the plates is sitting on top of the opened packet and has been exposed to light and is fogged ie cloudy and silvered.
Thomas Baker and Company Laboratory, 190 Russell Street, Melbourne, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1887-1888
Thomas Baker was at 190 Russell St from 1884-1888. However, the box label only mentions Thomas Baker not Austral Laboratory, and as the business name Thomas Baker and Company Laboratory was only established in 1887, therefore the timeframe is probably 1887-1888.
Photograph, Black & White
Top label, printed, black ink: 'Only open in a Deep Ruby Light / BAKER'S / GELATINE PLATES, / Prepared by a new and improved process (by which uniform good quality is obtained and / specially adapted for Australian use. / THOMAS BAKER, / 190 RUSSELL STREET, MELBOURNE. / No. __ (handwritten B)/ Observe that the signature label (which is a guarantee of quality) is / unbroken.'
Type of item
Overall Dimensions - Closed
121 mm (Width), 35 mm (Depth), 91 mm (Height)
Re location of premises and business name. Sands & McDougall 1884, p. 334. The Australasian Photo-Review, December 15 1928, p. 1. Sands & McDougall 1888, p. 438.