Box of opened unused dry gelatine glass plates made by Thomas Baker, 1885-1886.

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. He operated as Thomas Baker, then T. Baker & Company, then Baker & Rouse, followed by Australian Kodak Limited, Kodak Australasia Ltd and finally 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 in the first year or two after Thomas Baker 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.

Physical Description

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.

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